When my kids were little, I tried a number of ways to get them to eat more vegetables. Of course, there was the standard approach – just put the veggies on the dinner table, encourage them to try a few bites, and hope for the best. I’m not sure why, but my younger daughter was always more open to trying new vegetables compared to my older daughter. Over time, things have definitely improved and they are trying more and more vegetables these days. They are even eating green salads, almost nightly.
What do vegetables have to do with this dish? Well – this version of macaroni and cheese contains a bit of roasted butternut squash and roasted carrots. These vegetables add a lot of flavor, they cut down on the amount of cheese needed, and they impart a lot of creaminess. This dish is a sneaky way to add vegetables to your child’s diet or to anyone’s really. It’s more than that though, because I actually like this version of macaroni and cheese as much as the more traditional dish. I think the roasted vegetables, which are pureed and then added to the dish, add a new dimension to the usual approach. And, if you are watching your weight or looking to lower your calorie or fat intake, this is an excellent approach to slimming down this dish and providing additional nutrients.
roasted butternut mac and cheese
- elbow pasta , 1.5 cups uncooked
- butternut squash , cubed, 1/2 cup
- carrots , chopped, 1/2 cup
- reduced fat cheddar cheese , 1/2 cup shredded
- low fat milk , 1 cup
- butter , 1 tablespoon
- flour , 1 tablespoon,
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- After the oven has been preheated, roast the vegetables until very soft and fork tender (about 30 minutes or so)
- When the vegetables are finished cooking, puree in a food processor and set aside.
- As the vegetables are cooking, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot.
- After the water has reached boiling, add 3 tablespoons of course salt, then add pasta and cook according to package directions (usually 6 to 9 minutes)
- When pasta has been cooked, drain, and set aside.
- In the meantime, in a large pan, melt butter over low heat
- When butter has melted, add flour and cook until a roux forms (do not allow the mixture to brown)
- Add 1 cup of milk a little at a time to the roux over medium heat, whisking as the milk is poured to form a thick sauce
- Remove the milk mixture from heat, add the shredded cheese and 1/2 cup of the pureed vegetables, and stir until cheese is melted
- Combine the milk-cheese-vegetable sauce with the pasta
- Season to taste with salt and pepper
- Serve immediately.