I’ve mentioned a few times that one thing that I like to do is take typically unhealthy dishes,and redo them in a way that makes them a little lighter, and better for you so that you could in fact eat them every day if you wanted. Today’s recipe is for my version of macaroni and cheese. This has become a family favorite, and my three year old, who is a mac and cheese connoisseur can’t tell that this is any different from the regular stuff. In this particular recipe half of the cheese sauce is replaced with a carrot puree, and the traditional bechamel is altered by using whole wheat flour and olive oil instead of white flour and butter. Tuna and Broccoli shells and cheese. 4-6 servings Ingredients -Whole Wheat macaroni or shells. We use shells because it captures some of the broccoli and tuna which means that when my daughter tries to pick around the broccoli some of it still sneaks it’s way in. As far as how much to use, check the package for serving recommendations. I typically use ⅔ to ¾ of the recommended serving size -1 cup of whole milk -1tbsp of olive oil -1tbsp of whole wheat flour -black pepper and nutmeg to taste -½ to ¾ cup of shredded cheese. Sharp Cheddar, or a blend like mexican or taco are what I recommend. We typically use a mexican blend. -3 medium to large carrots washed -enough chicken broth to cover the carrots(more on this later) -1-2 tsp of minced garlic -1 bag of frozen broccoli -2 cans of tuna drained, but not rinsed. -salt for pasta water
Chop carrots into round slices and put into a small sauce pan. Add just enough chicken broth to almost, but not quite cover the carrots. This could be anywhere from ¼ of a cup to ¾ of a cup. It’s better to err on the side of too little as you can thin it out later. Boil with the pan covered until the carrots are soft.
Pour the carrots and broth into a blender. Let it cool for around 5 minutes before pureeing. (It will blow the lid off of the blender if you don’t) If you would like some bits of carrots in the dish, then don’t puree completely. If you want it to completely combine with the cheese sauce, then make sure that you blend until smooth.
In the same small saucepan heat the milk on medium low heat until just starting to boil. Stir occasionally. In a large pot bring several quarts of water to a boil for the pasta (follow the package directions)
Steam the broccoli in the microwave following the package directions and open and drain the tuna. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan heat the olive oil over medium to medium-high(ish) heat. Add the garlic and saute for a minute or two. Add the flour and whisk. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes whisking frequently.
Once the flour has cooked, and the milk is heated add the milk to the flour and butter(the roux) and whisk together on medium to medium low(ish) heat. Continue to whisk gently. Once it begins to thicken add the black pepper and nutmeg(This is a bechamel sauce.) Continue to whisk and allow it to continue to thicken(About 5 minutes)
After 5 minutes whisk in the pureed carrots completely. Add the cheese, and whisk until the cheese is fully melted.
Turn the heat to low and add the steamed broccoli and tuna. Stir to combine.
Once the pasta water has reached a boil, sparingly add salt and then the shells or macaroni. The water should begin to boil around the time that the bechamel is first starting to thicken. Make sure to stir the pasta occasionally to prevent sticking.
After the pasta has cooked to desired doneness drain, reserving some of the pasta water, and add the pasta to the cheese sauce. Stir to combine.
At this point decide if the sauce consistency is right, or too thick. If it is too thick then add the pasta water a little at a time until the desired consistency is reached. I find that the water that gets trapped in the shells is usually enough to thin it out perfectly.