Macaroni and cheese is always a winner with children. It is the ultimate comfort food for kids and adults alike. The brilliant thing about this recipe is that this is a much healthier macaroni and cheese because it is packed with vegetables. I know from the picture I bet you are doubting me. But trust me there is more vegetables in this recipe than there is cheese sauce.
The Secret to Healthy Macaroni Cheese with Hidden Vegetables
There are large quantities of 3 vegetables cleverly hidden in this macaroni cheese recipe.
- Onion, yes never forget onion is a vegetable, and if you dice/slice it finely and cook it gently it goes lovely and sweet, do not burn your onion it adds a bitter flavour
- Cauliflower, Cauliflower puree completely disappears into the cheese sauce
- Courgette, well I call it courgette, you may call it zucchini. I know you are looking at the photo and thinking but there is no green. Well for the very picky eater one way to start with courgette is too peel it, as the white just disappears into the sauce. You do not need to peel the courgette if your kiddo is happy to eat green vegetables then don’t peel it. But if you are worried about vegetable intake and your fussy eater hasn’t made it to the point where they are happy to eat green, then try peeling it.
Some people have reservations about sneaking vegetables. I believe there is a place and enough space for both options. Sneaking and not sneaking. My kids have meals where the vegetables are loud and proud and meals where the vegetables are more subtle. Feel free to read my thoughts on whether to sneak or not to sneak vegetables.
Healthy Macaroni Cheese
Yield 8 people
- 1 1/2 Cup uncooked pasta (macaroni, penne, spirals etc)
- 400g cauliflower (approx. half a small cauliflower)
- 2 medium courgette
- 2 Tbsp (30g) butter or your preferred oil
- 2 Tbsp plain flour
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 2 rashers of streaky bacon finely diced
- 1 Cup milk
- 1 Cup grated cheese
- Cook the pasta as per the packet directions, drain and set aside
- Roughly chop the cauliflower, peel the courgette/zucchini, roughy chop and steam with the cauliflower until tender
- While the cauliflower is cooking start on the roux sauce (white sauce).
- Heat butter/oil in a saucepan
- Add onion and bacon and sauté until onion softened and translucent
- Add the flour and cook for around 2mins whilst stirring
- Gradually add the milk (I find if you preheat the milk first, which you can do in the microwave, you will get a smoother sauce and the sauce will thicken much more quickly)
- Bring the sauce to the boil then remove from heat. At this point you should have quite a thick but smooth sauce
- Stir in 3/4 Cup of the grated cheese
- Once the cauliflower and courgette is tender, drain, then puree. I usually use a whizz stick/stick blender. You will end up with around 2 cups of vegetable puree,
- Stir the vegetable puree into your cheese your sauce
- Combine your sauce with the pasta
- Then pour the pasta and sauce mixture into a greased oven proof dish. You can top with the remaining grated cheese
- Bake for around 20mins at 180 degrees celsius
- Remove the bacon entirely and you will still have a lovely vegetarian dish.
- I use butter when I make a roux sauce/white sauce as I just find it cooks better for me, but you can use oil
- I often freeze this dish into kiddy portions, using a silicone muffin tray. Once frozen I pop them out and put them in a zip lock bag, then reheat as many portions as I need.
- Add sliced boiled eggs to up the protein content
- It also makes a great side dish for lean meat, fish or chicken.
Courses Light Meal