Okay so this recipe is at least 10X better than the boxed mac and cheese and about 100X better than that baby stuff in a little container that you heat for 3o seconds. So you’ll need some basic ingredients you most likely already have on hand to make this recipe.
about 6 oz. or half a box or bag of small cut pasta (I used alphabets)
about 1-1.5 cups of milk
2 Tbsp of butter
2 Tbsp flour
1- 1.5 cups of shredded cheese (your choice)
puree of pumpkin or other mild tasting veggie like cauliflower, or whole sweet peas!
(its super easy to make veggie purees if you have a food processor, just steam veggies until fork tender and put in food processor with a little water and puree) I like to make big batches and then portion them out and freeze until I need them.
Ok I do this all in one pan but feel free to use two.
The first thing is to boil your water and cook your pasta in salted water. I do like to read the label and set the timer for the reccomended time for this, I have found its the best way to not over cook pasta, or have to taste it a million times to see if its ready. (Reserve a little of the starchy water before you drain your pasta) Ok drain the pasta and set aside
Melt butter on med-low heat, add your flour and whisk.
You will have something that looks like this. Cook until it turns golden as the flour needs to be cooked a little so that it doesn’t taste like raw flour.
Add milk just a table spoon or so at first and whisk until smooth, then add some more, as your mixture starts to loosen up you can add more milk at a time. Now I don’t usually measure the milk at this point I just add it until I have a nice béchamel sauce but it is around a cup or so of milk for the amount of butter and flour rue we started with.
Here, the rue is loosening and you can add a little more volume of milk. Keep whisking!
Keep adding milk and whisking and cooking on med-low heat until your sauce coats the back of a spoon. Now you can start adding your shredded cheese.
Add cheese about 1/4 Cup at a time and whisk into your sauce. I like to add about 1- 1 1/2 cups of cheese. I will taste the sauce to see if it needs salt (usually a nice fat pinch at this point) and some pepper if you want. Add cheese until it thickens a little more and tastes nice and cheesy. Now you can add some pumpkin puree or other veggie puree or something like frozen sweet peas or corn to taste, for me it put about 3/4 of a cup puree in there or about 1 cup of veggie pieces. Lily loves this recipe with peas!
Here’s my floor cleaner when I cook, our Aussie stays right at my feet while I cook, and drives me a little crazy while I’m in the kitchen.
Add your pasta in now, and if your sauce has thickened too much you can add that reserved pasta water now to loosen your sauce, I find I end up doing this a lot, probably because I add too much cheese to my sauce.
Time to ENJOY!
P.S. this sauce also works for longer cut pastas like cavatappi, penne or wagon wheels and you can also add things like green chili’s mushrooms or truffle oil for more grown up tastes.
I like to top it with a little more cheese (because why not?) and enjoy! Here’s a happy camper enjoying her mac and cheese!