Healthy Broccoli Mushroom Mac & Cheese
with black bean penne and a cauliflower carrot three cheese sauce
March is National Noodle Month. I had a #NoodleMonth party on my facebook page yesterday and gazing at all those lovely pasta dishes made me hungry for a cheesy pasta casserole … not just any cheesy pasta casserole: specifically I wanted macaroni & cheese. A beautiful, creamy baked mac & cheese, with really good cheeses.
I’ve not been eating much pasta since I cut down the carbs in my diet, but when I was shopping at Aldi the other day, I noticed this black bean penne that just struck me as very interesting. I looked at the ingredient list and there was just one ingredient: black beans. I was so intrigued … how did they make black beans into pasta? And what would it taste like? Would it be more like black beans or like real penne? In any case, it’s high in protein, iron, fiber and vitamins so I figured it was definitely worth a try.
I brought his intriguing pasta home (along with its sister, red lentil rotini) and they both sat on the shelf for weeks. Today I woke up and decided it was time to make some macaroni and cheese with black bean penne. And some broccoli and mushrooms, because I love broccoli and mushrooms and they are both so perfect with a good cheese sauce. For the sauce, I used a cauliflower-carrot base, blended with broth and three cheeses. Cauliflower and carrots are so good at hiding away in cheese sauces.
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 a head of cauliflower, broken into florets
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped into large chunks
- 1 teaspoon stone-ground mustard
- A sprinkle of nutmeg
- A sprig of thyme
- 1 oz. Greek cream cheese (or Neufchatel)
- 1.5 oz. shredded gouda cheese
- 1.5 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 6 oz. black bean penne (or other pasta of choice)
- 4 oz. frozen broccoli, thawed and chopped
- 1 teaspoon avocado oil
- 1 - 2 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped
- 4 oz. fresh mushrooms, roughly chopped
- Red Robin Seasoning (or your favorite seasoned salt) and Trader Joe's 21-Seasoning Salute (or your favorite seasoning blend)
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (use gluten free breadcrumbs or rice chex for GF)
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil from marinating cheeses - or use 1 T. oil + 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning + 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
- Heat the chicken broth to boiling and add the bay leaf. Set aside to let the bay leaf steep.
- Bring a pot of salted water to boiling, then add the cauliflower and carrots, reduce heat slightly and let boil for about 15 - 20 minutes or until the veggies are very tender. Use a slotted spoon to remove the veggies from the water and put them in a blender. Put the pasta in the boiling water to cook.
- Now, to the blender, add the reserved broth, mustard, nutmeg and thyme to the blender. Blend until smooth, then add the cheeses and blend again.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- While the pasta is cooking, microwave the broccoli to thaw it, then chop it up into small pieces and use a clean kitchen towel to squeeze out any excess moisture.
- Add the avocado oil to a small frying pan, then add the garlic and mushrooms. Stir for a few minutes, then cover and let cook, stirring several times, until the mushrooms are tender. Uncover, season the mushrooms with seasonings, and cook and stir until the mushroom juices are cooked off and the mushrooms are nicely browned.
- When the pasta is done, strain off the water. Toss the pasta with the mushrooms and broccoli and as much of the cheese sauce as you think is appropriate, saving the rest for another use. Pour into an oven-safe dish. In a small bowl, toss the breadcrumbs with the olive oil and sprinkle them on top. Bake at 400 F. for 15 - 20 minutes or until the crumbs on top are nicely browned and crispy. Enjoy!
RECIPE SOURCE: http://www.sumptuousspoonfuls.com/
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