Friday, May 4, 2012

Creamy Carrot Mac 'n Cheese

A long time ago, when I worked as a nutritionist, mothers would often tell me that their kids wouldn't eat vegetables.  While I knew most kids would outgrow their food fussiness, most moms wanted to know what they could do right now to get their kids to eat a balanced diet.  It was great fun devising kid-friendly recipes that incorporated the offending veggies.

Today's recipe is a delicious twist on an old classic with nutrition-packed carrots hiding in plain sight.  The mac n' cheese recipe below is pretty easy to make, but you can add cooked and mashed carrots to your favorite mac n' cheese recipe if you prefer.

Start by making the mashed carrots:

4-5 medium to large carrots

Trim and peel the carrots.  Chop them into large chunks.  Place in a 2 qt stock pot.  Cover with water.  Add a little salt (or not).  Cover and boil for 10-15 minutes until just tender.  Drain.  Cool slightly and mash with a fork or in a food processor or with an immersion blender.  Set aside.

Next make the sauce:

2 T butter
2 T flour
1-1/2 C milk
2 C grated cheddar cheese (or whatever cheese you prefer)
1 C cook and mashed carrots
salt and pepper to taste

1.  In a 1-1/2 qt saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.

2  Add the flour and cook, stirring occasionally for about 2 minutes.

3.  Gradually add the milk, little by little, stirring regularly as the sauce thickens.  Bring it to barely a boil, but don't let it boil.

4.  Add the grated cheese and stir until fully melted.

5.  Add the mashed carrots and stir until combined.

6.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside while you cook the macaroni.

To assemble:

Cook 1 lb macaroni according to the directions on the package.  When done, drain well and return to the cooking pot.  Pour the carrot/cheese sauce over the hot macaroni and stir until well-coated.

You can serve the macaroni like this as a creamy side dish, but I prefer to put it in a buttered baking dish or individual ramekins, top it with buttered bread crumbs and bake it at 375 degrees F for 20-30 minutes until the bread crumbs have browned.

I also like to use different pasta shapes.  Shells, fusilli, and farfalle all work very well in this recipe.

Today's bounty included:

From Sage Mountain Farm:  Young garlic, strawberries, romaine, and spinach;

From JR Organics:  Carrots, turnips, and cilantro;

From Jaime Farms:  Leeks, rainbow chard, free-range eggs, hot-house tomatoes, broccoli, and basil;

From Rancho Santa Cecilia:  Golden nugget mandarins and avocados.

And from Silver Lake Farms there were nasturtiums and cardoons!




  1. nice opinion.. thanks for sharing..

  2. As soon as I saw this I had to try it. I added some garlic and threw in some peas and my toddler loved it! As did everyone else. Thanks for sharing this recipe.