This easy mac and cheese with veggies incorporates zucchini, peas, and tomatoes to create a colorful low-guilt indulgence. It has tons of flavor but less calories with the addition of skim milk and reduced fat cheddar cheese. This veggie mac and cheese truly strikes a balance between classic comfort and lighter fare.
12ounceszucchini and summer squash(one small of each), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced ⅛-inch thick
1(14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained(plain or Italian-style work equally well)
¾cuppeas(fresh or frozen)
¾cupbread crumbs(fresh or dried)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 13-by-9-inch (3 quart) baking dish and set aside.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta for about half as long as the box suggests for al dente. Drain and set aside.
In a large pot over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter and then whisk in the flour. Add the hot milk slowly, whisking continuously, until it creates a smooth sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer, still whisking so it doesn’t burn, and allow it to slightly thicken for a few minutes. It should coat the back of a spoon.
Remove the sauce from the heat and add the salt, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. Then stir in the cheese until it is completely melted. Add the vegetables and cooked pasta and stir to coat. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and spread it out evenly.
Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and stir it into the bread crumbs. Top the macaroni and cheese with the bread crumbs and then bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until bubbly at the edges. Switch to the broiler and broil for another couple minutes, or until the top begins to brown. Serve immediately.
This recipe yields 8 servings, however it can yield 6 slightly larger/more generous servings each with 604 calories, 82 g carbs, 28 g protein, 18 g fat, 52 mg cholesterol, 6 g fiber, 7 g sugar.
Alternatively, bake this veggie mac and cheese in smaller baking dishes adding up to about 3 quarts volume. I usually like to bake a medium sized casserole (about half the size the recipe calls for) and then divide up the remainder of the macaroni/veggie mixture into smaller oven-safe dishes. Then I tightly wrap the smaller dishes first with plastic wrap, then with foil, and freeze them for future one-off meals. I freeze them unbaked and bake them fresh when I am ready to eat them.
To cook previously frozen mac and cheese, first defrost in the refrigerator overnight. I don't usually bake from a frozen state as I find it bakes unevenly and takes a long time to heat all the way through to the center. Bake the thawed mac and cheese as instructed above. It will take a bit longer to bake a cold casserole right out of the fridge than a warm one you've just assembled.
This recipe uses kosher salt (aka cooking salt, kitchen salt, coarse salt outside of the US). If you are using table salt, definitely scale down the salt as that is a saltier type of salt! The type of salt will make a big difference in how salty your food tastes, so keep that in mind.