Vegetable Mac & Cheese

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Vegetable Mac & Cheese
What's your Take?

Jill Aquino, from Fanwood, New Jersey, has been making this crowd-pleaser for five years now and says the best part is that she can throw in whatever leftover veggies are in the fridge. Actually, it's the quintessential compromise dinner: kids get macaroni and cheese, parents get a few vegetables tossed in for good measure.

What you'll need

  • 1 1/2 cups dried tubular pasta, such as elbow macaroni
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1/4-inch slices
  • 10 oz. of frozen or fresh broccoli, stems sliced, florets separated
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 cup low-fat plain cottage cheese
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard (country style)
  • 1/4 tsp. Tabasco sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 to 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded (depends on how cheesy you want it)
  • 4 oz. part-skim mozzarella cheese, coarsely shredded
  • 1 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

How to make it

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray or margarine.

  2. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 4 minutes. Stir in the carrots and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the broccoli and cook for 2 minutes more. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, and return the pasta and vegetables to the saucepan. Stir in the peas.

  3. In a food processor, combine the cottage cheese with the reserved liquid from the cooked pasta. Add the mustard, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Stir into the pasta and vegetables. Mix in the cheddar and mozzarella and pour into the baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

  4. Bake uncovered until the top is golden brown (about 20 to 25 minutes), then let it set for 10 minutes to firm up. Serves 4. Note: This dish can be prepared a day before it is baked.

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