This Veggie Mac and Cheese recipe includes a significant serving of vegetables that adds colour and nutrients to the dish!
If wanting mac and cheese for dinner makes me childish, then I don’t ever want to grow up. Truly, there is nothing more comforting and nostalgic than mac and cheese. Although I didn’t have it often as a kid, it was a real treat when I did.
I mean the boxed kind of course, and while I wouldn’t turn down a bowl of that, I have, in fact, grown up a bit and evolved to real-deal mac and cheeses. Super creamy, ultra cheesy and downright comforting.
As a lover of carbs and cheese, its no surprise I have more than one recipe for mac and cheese on my site. If you are looking for an indulgent mac, check out my recipe for Baked Macaroni and Cheese or for a ready-when-you-get-home version, my Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese is the way to go!
This mac and cheese recipe I am sharing today includes a healthy dose of vegetables to make it a more rounded meal. See, I am all grown up after all. The veggies add a nice touch of colour and flavour to the dish.
It manages to satisfy that comfort food craving while adding some extra nutrients you don’t always find in a mac and cheese. Most of all, it is fresh and satisfying and will leave you wanting more.
What cheese is good for mac and cheese?
Having a luscious, velvety cheese sauce for your mac comes down to choosing a good, melty cheese that will deliver on both taste and texture. Good options include:
- cheddar (regular or white. Sharp cheddar is a personal favourite)
- gruyere (another personal favourite)
- Monterey jack
How to avoid a gritty cheese sauce
The best part of a homemade mac and cheese is the luscious, creamy sauce. There is nothing worse than having that sauce get all gritty and grainy on you. The best way to avoid this is:
- avoid pre-shredded cheese. I know, its tempting to take this short-cut but those pre-shredded cheeses are coated in powders that will affect the texture of your sauce.
- choose a good melty cheese for your mac and cheese. Check the section above for my recommended cheeses.
- start with a good bechamel as the base.
- add your cheese slowly and over low heat.
If you are following a recipe using cheese that you shredded yourself and that cheese is one that is, in fact, recommended for this recipe, its likely down to that last point. When adding the cheese to your bechamel, make sure the temperature isn’t too high (it should not be bubbling madly at this stage). Add the cheese in slowly, stirring to melt it before adding in more, all the while making sure it does not bubble and get too hot.
I hope you enjoy this take on a mac and cheese!
This post was originally published on November 30, 2019 and was updated with new content and photos.
If you try and enjoy this Veggie Mac and Cheese, I would love to hear about it! Leave a rating and/or comment below to let me know what you think!
Veggie Mac and Cheese
- 250 g pasta of choice (elbow macaroni, ditali, shells, etc)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 onion finely chopped
- 1 zucchini chopped into bit sized pieces
- 1 red pepper chopped into bite sized pieces
- 1 bunch spinach chopped
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups cheddar (white or regular cheddar, gruyere, or your favourite cheese blend)
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and boil until pasta is al dente. Drain.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, red peppers and zucchini and saute until the onions are transluscent and the vegetables are tender. Add the spinach and remove from heat, stirring until spinach is wilted.
- Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add the flour. Whisk together to create a roux. Add the milk and continue whisking. Slowly add the cheese and paprika and continue stirring until sauce thickens [do not add all of the cheese at once. Slowly mix in small portions and stir until melted before adding more].
- Add the pasta and vegetables and stir together over medium-low heat for a few minutes. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.