Macaroni and cheese is an instant favourite with children and needs no introduction. Children can happily enjoy it every day of the week, without the smallest of complaints. However, the downside to such a dish is that its nutritional value is fairly low. Pasta contains large amounts of gluten and processed cheese isn't particularly known for its vitamins and minerals. When parents to sneak in vegetables, children notice immediately, and it often leads to tantrums. Here are two variations of the traditional macaroni and cheese, which gently incorporate vegetables, without sacrificing taste.
Basic Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup grated cheese of your choice
- 250 gms boiled macaroni
- In a saucepan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
- Take the saucepan off the heat and whisk in 1/2 cup of the milk, whisking to ensure no lumps remain.
- Once the mixture is smooth, return the saucepan to the heat and add the other 1/2 cup of milk.
- Whisk in the cheese and stir well till the sauce thickens.
- Season with salt and pepper and fold in the cooked macaroni.
- Transfer to a baking dish and sprinkle with additional cheese to cover the top.
- Bake until the cheese has melted and browned lightly.
Blanch 250 gms of spinach leaves in boiling water for 5 minutes. Rinse in cold water after removing it from the pot to stop excess cooking. Let it cool and blend to a smooth puree in a blender jar or using an immersion blender. Make the sauce for the macaroni and cheese as mentioned above and add pureed spinach before adding the macaroni. Bake the dish as instructed above.
Cook 250 gms of cubed red pumpkin in boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain the pumpkin and allow it to cool completely before blending it to a smooth puree in a blender jar or using an immersion blender. Make the sauce for the macaroni and cheese as mentioned above and add pureed pumpkin before adding the macaroni. Bake the dish as instructed above.
In both the variations mentioned above, the vegetables have not been overcooked, which ensures that no nutrients are lost in the cooking process.