Thursday, January 2, 2014

.vegetable mac and cheese with a kick.

let's just put it out there. my blogging has taken a back burner lately. blame it on moving a million times. blame it on the baby. blame it on sleep (or the lack thereof). blame it on candy crush. blame it on the rain. 
regardless, i'm back with a delicious dish that can serve as a hearty side or even the main event. 

this macaroni and cheese is healthy for all you "being good this year" folks because it is packed with veggies. well, let's rephrase that. remove the mac and cheese and eat the veggies and you've got yourself a healthy dish.

dice up fresh red pepper, yellow squash, broccoli florets and carrots. not your mama's mac n cheese, right?

don't these colors look gorgeous together? they're about to be roasted to bring out the best of flavors.

with some hot olive oil, saut√© the garlic and add a few tablespoons of flour. then, whisk in your milk. 

use whatever pasta suits your fancy. as an ode to all those bottles opened to ring in the new year, i went with corkscrew. 

now that you have your cheese base, throw in the cheese itself. this is the star of the dish, after all. (this is the opinion of a gal who would eat cheese over chocolate.)

here comes the kick. add crushed red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper. it is only enough to make you go hmm...without needing ice water glued to your hand.

add cooked pasta. 

stir in the roasted veggies.

cover the top with panko bread crumbs and broil for a few minutes. this is a hearty, savory, delicious version of a classic favorite.

vegetable mac and cheese with a kick

what you need
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped into small chunks
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 yellow squash, quartered and diced
10 baby carrots, sliced thinly
2 cups pasta (elbow macaroni, rotini, penne, etc.)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced

3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk

2 cups (8 oz.) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp. panko breadcrumbs

what you do

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Set a medium pot of salted water to boil. Prepare a large baking sheet by lining with aluminum foil and coating with a little olive oil or nonstick cooking spray.
Toss broccoli, red pepper, squash and carrots onto the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until vegetables have softened. Remove from oven and set aside.
Once water is boiling, lower heat slightly and add pasta, cooking according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, stirring constantly until mixture is slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in cheddar cheese until well distributed and melted. Add red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Add macaroni and vegetables.
Place mixture in a large casserole dish and sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs. Place under the broiler in your oven (500 degrees) for 3-4 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

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