In my experience, if there’s one dish that kids never turn their noses up at, it’s macaroni and cheese. It’s one of those fail safe dishes that’s a sure sell when all else fails. I’ve tried making tons of the box kinds — organic and not — but they kind of gross me out with their powdered cheese taste. This homemade mac and cheese is so easy to make and I’ve added my own little twist.
There are several recent children’s cookbooks on the market that try to hide and deceive kids into eating vegetables by having you puree them and add them to recipes. Not only is it labor intensive for you, its down right sneaky. I get a lot of flack from some parents who say there’s no other way to get their kids to eat vegetables, and while I know it’s not easy, all that hiding and sneaking will eventually catch up to you. I see lots of older kids now who don’t eat veggies because they never ate them when they were younger (or so they thought). Don’t you want your kids to learn about what they put in their bodies? If you sneak veggies in, they’ll never know they really do enjoy the taste of things as simple and lovely as fresh spinach or broccoli.
I added tiny florets of cauliflower to this dish, but the cauliflower I got at the farmer’s market is purple which gives this version of an old classic even more eye appeal for little ones. Another huge bonus is that you cook it in the same pot as the pasta, so you don’t have to pull out extra cook wear. If you can’t find purple cauliflower, no biggie, just add white or any other vegetable you have on hand. Instead of pretending there’s no veggies in this mac and cheese, try, “isn’t this mac and cheese with cauliflower delicious!” All of a sudden, cauliflower is cool.
We used these to make this recipe_
Mac and Cheese with Purple Cauliflower
- 12 Ounces whole wheat pasta
- 1 Head White, Yellow, or Purple Cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 3 Tbsp Butter, plus more for greasing baking dish
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 2 Cups milk
- 2 1/4 Cups Cheddar Cheese, grated & divided
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees,
- Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions. In the last 3 minutes add the cauliflower (The directions on the wholewheat pasta that I used called for a cooking time of 10-12 minutes. The pasta should be al dente, so I cooked it for 7 minutes, added the cauliflower and drained the water off after 10 minutes total).
- Drain the pasta and cauliflower and place in a large bowl.
- In a small heavy bottomed saucepan melt 3 tbsp of the butter.
- Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the milk in a slow stream and whisk to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 3 minutes stirring occasionally .
- Add 2 cups of the grated cheese and stir until melted.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and stir to combine.
- Place in a buttered baking dish (approximately 11 x 7 inches).
- Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese over the pasta with cheese.
- Bake for 30 minutes and serve.
- (Can be prepared the night before, refrigerated and baked the next day.)