Mac and Cheese with Veggies and Beans
Some nights I need something super simple for dinner. Mac and cheese is one of those meals that really hits the spot. It’s comforting, easy to make, and can be packed with veggies and protein.
Today I had a ton of broccoli on hand. I made “pasta” out of the stems yesterday, but the florets needed to be used up.
They’re tossed in the skillet, with some olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne for a hint of spice.
While the broccoli cooks, the sauce comes together (and the pasta boils away). My mission was gluten-free, so I used some ground up flax seeds soaked in milk, and blended chickpeas to thicken. The sauce wasn’t as smooth as I’ve ever had, but it tasted really good.
Added to the nicely thickened sauce is tons of grated gouda. This cheese is seriously good. I could have eaten that whole block on my own, if I had had crackers on hand. I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t.
I had bow tie pasta on hand. I’m a use what’s in the house kinda cook. But, if I was making this a second time, I might consider using fusilli or penne pasta (there are some delicious rice pastas out there).
Everything gets combined then sprinkled with a touch more paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Just for fun. I like to let it stand for 5-10 minutes so everything can get good and set before serving. But, if you can’t wait, I understand.
This dish would work no matter what veggies are in season. In spring you could use asparagus or snap peas. In the summer you could try summer squash or bell peppers. When fall and winter come back around again, butternut squash, cauliflower, or kohlrabi would be nice. No matter what the veggies are, it’s great on its own. But, I also think that it would be great topped with a fried egg (isn’t everything?!) or with some cooked and chopped meat mixed in (ham, bacon, chicken, turkey, beef… pretty much anything would be tasty).
- 1 T flax seeds, ground
- 2 C milk (divided 3 T, then 1 3/4 C plus 1 T)
- 1/2 C chickpeas (blended) or hummus
- 1 t dijon mustard
- 4 oz. pasta (any kind - rice pasta is great)
- 1 T olive oil
- 4 C broccoli (or cauliflower, carrots, kohlrabi, asparagus, snap peas, summer squash, bell peppers, or butternut squash)
- to taste salt
- to taste pepper
- pinch cayenne
- 1/2 t paprika
- 1/4 C reserved pasta water
- 2 C gouda, grated
- 1/2 C parmesan cheese, grated
- paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper for sprinkling
- lemon slices for serving
- Mix ground flax seeds with milk. Let it stand for 15 minutes (it will get kinda gelatinous).
- Heat remaining milk and milk-flax mixture in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes, until slightly thickened. Add chickpeas/hummus and dijon, stir to combine, and cook for about 5 minutes more.
- Cook pasta.
- Heat skillet, add olive oil, broccoli salt, pepper, cayenne, and paprika. Cook over medium or medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
- Add pasta water to sauce. Remove from heat. Whisk in cheeses. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Stir in pasta and broccoli. Top with a sprinkle of paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper.
- Let stand for about 5-10 minutes. Serve with a squeeze of lemon.
Prep and cooking time includes active and inactive components.