My four-year old is a very picky eater. If he could have macaroni and cheese at every meal, he would. So I’ve taken to hiding healthy foods in the mac-n-cheese to ensure he’s getting enough nutrition. This version worked pretty well. If I were making it for myself, I would have used stronger cheeses like (you guessed it) Gruyére, and I would have added other punchy flavors like garlic or nutmeg. But I wanted this dish to go down without a fuss, so cheddar ruled the day.
I didn’t conceal from him the fact that I was concealing healthy foods in his macaroni and cheese. In fact, I enlisted his help during the broccoli and cauliflower grinding process. He loves to push the button. We used my new Cuisinart mini chopper. It’s a snap to pull out, use, and clean up.
Macaroni & Cheese with Broccoli and Cauliflower
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 lb elbow macaroni
3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/4 cup whole milk (or heavy cream to make it really decadent)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (we had fun shredding ours in a vintage Mouli)
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 Tbsp melted butter
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Put broccoli florets into food processor and grind into teeny weeny pieces. Remove to a bowl. Repeat with cauliflower.
2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add broccoli and cauliflower and toss. Basically, we’re browning these vegetables just a little bit to enhance the nutty sweet flavors they bring to the dish. After a few minutes, turn off the heat and leave for later.
3. Bring salted water to boil in a large pot and boil the macaroni. Since you’re going to be baking this dish, you can shave off a minute from the boiling time recommended on the package.
4. In the meantime, for the roux, heat the milk in a saucepan to almost boiling. Remove from heat for later. Melt butter in a heavy-bottom saucepan. Add flour and whisk continuously. Sautée flour for 3 minutes. Don’t let it brown or it will get bitter. Add the warm milk in a steady stream and whisk continuously. Simmer gently (no boiling!) until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add shredded cheese in small batches, incorporating each batch completely. Season with salt. Add broccoli and cauliflower and stir until well combined. At this stage, you have a kind of broccoli-cheddar cream soup. You could use this sauce for lots of different things. I put it over a baked potato and it was awesome.
5. Mix bread crumbs and melted butter in a small bowl.
6. To assemble, pour macaroni into a baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. I used this small Le Creuset dish. Stir in the sauce, coating all of the macaroni completley. Top with the buttered bread crumbs. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes or until bubbly. If topping is not already browned, you can put it under the broiler for a minute at the end.
Want to see a bunch more macaroni and cheese ideas? Check out this video collection at StreamingGourmet.com:
Looking for more broccoli recipes? Check out ComfyCook’s collection of Broccoli recipes collected from BSI participants around the blogosphere.