Many of my girlfriends and family are fun, awesome, and fabulous young moms, and though I’m still a few years away from little ones of my own, the idea of “mom friendly” dishes has popped up more than once. I was a pretty open minded eater as a little kid, but my brother on the other hand…ketchup and brown stuff only. Getting a vegetable across his plate was practically impossible. I’m surprised he survived toddlerhood without a bout of scurvy. So to help out these lovely friends of mine, I’m dedicating mondays to mom-friendly dinners that are easy to make, delicious for everybody, and all with some secret veggies folded in.
It doesn’t matter if you’re still in a booster seat or a dinner table regular, mac and cheese is awesome. But getting kids off of the neon orange stuff can be a challenge, and this recipe is as sneaky as it gets. If you have a go to mac and cheese recipe of your own, no worries, just add the veggie puree listed below to give your dish a healthy boost.
The veggie puree matches the texture and color of the mac and cheese, but if you prefer a deeper color, replace the turnips and parsnips with yams and butternut squash. The vegetables add a bunch of vitamins (C, B-6, B-12) and minerals (potassium, iron, magnesium), and the nutritional yeast adds a delicious savory/cheesy flavor plus a ton of additional minerals too.
Hope everyone at the dinner table enjoys!
2 slices whole grain bread
1 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
INGREDIENTS (SNEAKY VEGGIE PUREE)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup peeled and diced turnip
1/3 cup chopped cauliflower
1/3 cup peeled and diced parsnip
1/4 cup cashews
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast (optional)
INGREDIENTS (WHITE SAUCE)
2 cups milk
you might need more to get the right consistency
1 yellow onion, roughly sliced
1 bay leaf
pinch of chili flakes
1 tablespoon black pepper cloves
1 garlic clove, halved
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
INGREDIENTS (TO FINISH)
1 cup swiss, grated
1 cup cheddar, grated
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
8-12 ounces quinoa elbow macaroni or whole wheat elbow macaroni
There are three parts to this dish. The first is the topping, which is bread, garlic, and olive oil. All this goes in a food processor. Pulse until well combined. Set aside.
Next is the veggie puree, soak the cashews in room temperature water overnight (or speed up the process, but get a less creamy consistency by soaking them in hot water for 2 hours). Drain and set aside. Preheat oven to 425 F. Spread out the turnips, cauliflower, and parsnip on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season with a pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and golden brown. Take the veggies out of the oven and add to a food processor, along with the cashews. Add 2/3 cup of water and a pinch of salt and puree until very smooth. Add more water if necessary, it should have the consistency of a pureed soup.
For the sauce for the mac and cheese, heat the milk in a small saucepan with all of the milk ingredients, but be careful not to boil it. In a medium pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour, and whisk to create a roux (this will give something for the cheese to cling to).
Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk through a strainer, a little at a time, stirring, and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the veggie puree, cheese, pepper, and nutmeg. Season to taste. Stir well.
Cook the macaroni according to package instructions. Start with about 8 oz and fold into the cheese sauce. If you like more pasta, add more. Pour into greased ramekins (or a 9×13 baking dish). Put the crumbs on top of the mac and cheese, covering the entire top layer.
Bake for 25-30 minutes (depending on ramekins or one large baking dish), or until the sauce is bubbly and the crust is browned on top.