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Veggie Mac and Cheese

Veggie Mac and Cheese
A dear friend of ours is visiting us today.  I was wondering what to cook for her, as she watches her calories. But, she loves pasta.  Everyone likes Italian food, right?  So, for my friend, I baked the classic Mac and Cheese with veggies and added little less cheese.  Hope my friend likes my low cal pasta. Let me know how you guys like it.

Ingredients:
Shell Pasta - 1 1/2 cups
Broccoli Florets - 1 cup
Baby Carrots (medium chopped) - 1/2 cup
Green Peas - 1/2 cup
Onions (finely chopped) - 1/2 cup
Whole Wheat Flour - 1 tbsp
Sharp Cheddar Cheese - 1 cup
Pepper Jack Cheese - 1/2 cup
Ricotta Cheese - 1/2 cup
Whole Milk - 1/2 cup
Heavy Cream - 1/2 cup
Bread Crumbs - 1 cup
Spicy Brown Mustard - 1 tbsp
Black Pepper - 1/4 tsp
Paprika - 1/4 tsp
Olive Oil or Butter - 4 tbsp
Salt

How to bake Veggie Mac and Cheese:
  • Choose 2 cups of veggies of your choice.  Preheat the oven at 400 degrees F. Grease a baking dish with 1 tbsp oil or butter.  Add the veggies, little salt and fresh ground black pepper.  Mix well and bake for 10 - 15 minutes.  Let the veggies retain a crunch.  Set it aside.
Baked Mac and Cheese
  • Preheat the oven at 350 degrees F.  Grease another baking dish with cooking spray or oil or butter.
  • Heat about 8 cups of water in a big pot.  Bring it to a boil and add 1 tsp salt. Add pasta to the boiling water and cook for 5 - 6 minutes or al dente.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the sauce.  Heat 2 tbsp butter or oil in a big pan. Add onions and saute until they soften.  Lower the heat and add flour.  Saute for about a minute or two, until the raw smell goes off.
  • I didn't have all purpose flour (maida).  You can use that or corn starch as well to thicken the sauce.
  • Now add milk and heavy cream to the pan.  Stir and add three cheeses - cheddar, pepper jack and ricotta.  If ricotta cheese is not available, cottage cheese works well too.
  • Also, add brown mustard and paprika.  If required, add little salt.  Cook until the cheeses melt.  
  • Drain the water of the cooked pasta and add it to the sauce pan.  Toss in the veggies too.  Turn off the heat.  Add this cheesy veggie pasta mix to the greased baking dish.
  • Pour 1 tbsp oil or butter on the bread crumbs.  Mix it well and spread it all over the baking dish.  Bake the pasta at 350 degrees F for 25 - 30 minutes or until the bread crumbs turn golden brown.
Enjoy!  I served this pasta with a salad.

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