Mean ‘n’ Green Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
400g macaroni pasta
1 head of broccoli (about 350-500g), chopped into florets
For the cheese sauce:
1 heaped tbsp butter or lower fat spread
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
500ml semi-skimmed milk
1 tsp mustard
100g frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and excess water squeezed out
150g frozen peas
8 florets frozen broccoli, defrosted
100g Cheddar or similar hard cheese, grated
1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg or ground cumin
100g breadcrumbs, optional
Black pepper, to taste
Veg Portions / Serving: 2
Originally appeared in the Eat Them To Defeat Them 2020 Activity Book | Photography by Claire Wright | addsomeveg.com
Teatime has never been so terrifying… for broccoli! Make sure you try our easy creamy veg-defeating green mac ‘n’ cheese.
Preheat oven to 200C/gas 6. Boil pasta and broccoli in a large pan for about 4-5 mins, or about 2 mins before the pasta is done cooking.
Drain (reserving about half a cup of the cooking water) and pour the pasta and broccoli into a large casserole dish or roasting tin.
Melt the butter or spread in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour quickly until you have a paste.
Pour in a little of the milk and whisk continuously so that it becomes smooth and thick. Add in the rest of the milk, a little at a time, whisking continuously and waiting until it is all smooth before adding in the next bit of milk.
After adding all the milk, bring to the boil, then whisk in the mustard and mix in the defrosted greens. Turn the heat to low and allow to simmer for 5-10 mins, until the greens are cooked and the sauce is thick.
Take off the heat and stir in the cheese, nutmeg or cumin, and black pepper. Blitz the whole thing with a stick blender or mash and whisk until you have a smooth light green sauce.
Pour sauce over the macaroni and broccoli, along with the reserved cooking water and mix everything tgoether until the macaroni is covered in the sauce.
If you are using breadcrumbs, sprinkle them over the top of the pasta, and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until it’s slightly golden and bubbling.
Now scoop it in, stuff it in and belt out the battle cry… HASTA LA VISTA BROCCOLI!
Power Up: Max out your mac ‘n’ cheese by trying it with different veg like cooked sweet potato or pumpkin puree or boiled cauliflower in the sauce, or adding fried leeks or mushrooms to the pasta.
Watch It: See the video on how to make this recipe here.
Download it: Make sure you download the recipe card, along with the rest of the vegetable files and activities here.
Kids who engage regularly with veg through veg-themed activities, such as arts and crafts, sensory experiences, growing and cooking are shown to be more likely to eat the veg they engage with. Encouraging kids to engage and play with veg is the handy first step to them developing a good relationship with veg and life-long healthy eating.
Kids in the kitchen
- Add the frozen veg and other ingredients to the sauce once you’ve added the milk
- Mix everything together with the pasta in the final dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs, if using
- (Older kids can help add the milk, a little at a time)
While getting kids to interact with veggies for real and using their senses to explore them is best, encouraging hands off activities like arts & crafts, puzzles & games or at-home science experiments can be a great start, particularly for those who are fussier eaters or struggle with anything too sensory. Use these veg-themed activities as a stepping stone to interacting with the veg themselves. We have loads of crafty downloads here, puzzles here, and quirky science with veg here.
Once you feel your child is ready to engage a little more, you can show them how to explore the veg you have on hand with their senses, coming up with playful silly descriptions of how a veg smells, feels, looks, sounds and perhaps even tastes. Find ideas, videos and some simple sensory education session ideas to get you started here.
The moments before food is offered can be a perfect opportunity for engagement that can help make it more likely a child will eat it! Giving children a sense of ownership in the meal can make a big difference to their feelings going into it and the pride they take in it. You know your child best, but if you aren’t sure where to start, we have some fun and simple ideas for easy roles you can give them in the serving process over here.