(Recipe can be found on The Comfort of Cooking site here.)
Step by Step Instructions:
Spicy Roasted Vegetable Macaroni and Cheese simply rocks, and here’s what you’ll need: Flour, your favorite whole grain Pasta (I opted for the Elbow variety), 2 cups of Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Olive Oil, Milk, Panko Bread Crumbs, Salt & Pepper, Minced Garlic (1 clove), Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, Cayenne Pepper, half of a Red Pepper, Broccoli Florets, Baby Carrots, and one Yellow Squash. [Not pictured — a fresh nutmeg that will be used for grating.]
Get started by preheating your oven to 400 degrees…man do I hate waiting on my oven. Then I did my vegetable prep starting with the broccoli. I purchased the pre-cut broccoli florets to save on time, and I just cut the florets into smaller, bite-sized pieces. You’ll need about a cup…my cup runneth over here, but I figured it’s better to have more veggies than not enough. (I was right.)
Wash your yellow squash and dry it. I cut off the ends of the squash, sliced it in half, and then I sliced those halves in half as you’ll see above.
Then dice the quarters and your yellow squash is all set. I love squash (not the sport…not exactly sure what it is to be honest)…but I digress.
Grab about 10 baby carrots and slice them thinly.
Finally cut a red pepper in half and then dice up one half and save the rest for another cooking day.
Then I tossed the veggies in some olive oil (a good drizzle all over them) and baked them in the oven for about 20 minutes. I also got my water boiling for the pasta and cooked it according to the package instructions.
You’ll want your vegetables to be tender, and 20 minutes seemed about right.
Now it’s time to start on the cheese sauce, which is essentially a basic white sauce. Before I get started, since the sauce moves quickly, I like to measure out my 3 tablespoons of flour first, and I also prefer to add spices at this point. So I added some salt, pepper, and a little freshly ground nutmeg to the flour and set it aside.
In a saucepan over medium heat I added 1/4 cup of olive oil. Your oil to flour ratio helps thicken the sauce, so I always carefully measure those ingredients along with the liquid used, which in this case is milk.
When the oil is hot, add 1 minced garlic clove and this is where I deviated a bit from the recipe…I added the 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes to the oil now. My thought here is that the sauce will have more subtle spice…a trick I’ve picked up along the way. I apologize for the slightly blurry picture, but I didn’t want the garlic to burn…moving on…
Then add the flour to the sauce pan and whisk for 1-2 minutes so the flour cooks a bit.
Next up 1 1/2 cups of milk (I used skim) is added to the sauce pan. I add the milk gradually and whisk out the lumps as I go. Makes your life SO much easier.
Then take the saucepan off of the heat and add 2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, some extra salt and pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Whisk it up so that the cheese is melted…sigh.
It’s time to get a bit healthier by adding the cooked pasta and the roasted veggies. Stir until everything is well incorporated. Crank up your oven to Broil on Hi.
Finally the macaroni goodness is added to a greased baking dish. Then I sprinkled the Panko bread crumbs over the top. You could add some butter or spray butter to the top but I didn’t and it tasted delightful.
Place the baking dish in the oven under the broiler for 4-5 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Oh. My. Goodness. Eat right away and it’s so delightful. It’d be great as a side with chicken or pork or make a meal out of it like I did. Either way you’ll be happy, happy, happy! (Sorry I’ve been watching too much Duck Dynasty these days…as if you could watch “too much.”) Happy eating friends!
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped into small chunks
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 yellow squash, quartered and diced
10 baby carrots, sliced thinly
2 cups whole wheat pasta (elbow macaroni, rotini, penne, etc.)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups (8 oz.) Sargento® Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp. panko breadcrumbs
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Set a medium pot of salted water to boil. Prepare a large baking sheet by lining with aluminum foil and coating with a little olive oil or nonstick cooking spray.
2. Toss broccoli, red pepper, squash and carrots onto the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until vegetables have softened. Remove from oven and set aside.
3. Once water is boiling, lower heat slightly and add pasta, cooking according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
4. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, stirring constantly until mixture is slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in cheddar cheese until well distributed and melted. Add red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Add macaroni and vegetables.
5. Place mixture in a large casserole dish and sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs. Place under the broiler in your oven (500 degrees) for 3-4 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.