Who doesn’t love mac & cheese? My family does! Pasta and cheese together? Yum! This healthier mac & cheese has a secret ingredient – not that I’m advocating hiding foods and tricking your family – but no one needs to know about the beans! This recipe tastes great and without lots of butter, cream or half-and-half.
While you can add bacon, ground beef, caramelized onions, sliced tomatoes, bread crumbs – or whatever else you’d like – and these all taste great in it – this is the basic recipe we start with.
Having homemade chicken broth, cooked white beans, and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce all on-hand and thawed – I keep all of those ingredients in the freezer – makes this meal come together in 45 minutes – or less. We love it for lunch on Saturdays.
Red pepper flakes and hot sauce go really well on top if you like even more spice.
- 1 pound (16 ounces) whole wheat pasta – preferably elbows
- 2 cups chicken broth ([url href=”https://gogingham.com/2013/04/how-to-make-chicken-broth/” target=”_blank”]easy how to – homemade chicken broth[/url])
- 1 cup white beans ([url href=”https://gogingham.com/2014/04/cook-beans/” target=”_blank”]follow instructions for soaking and cooking[/url]) – or 1 can rinsed and drained
- 1 Tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobo sauce ([url href=”https://gogingham.com/2011/01/chipotle-peppers-adobo-sauce/” target=”_blank”]how to blend, use and store[/url])
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 cup milk
- 3 or 4 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2 Tablespoons butter, unsalted
- Set oven to 350 degrees and place an 11” x 17” jelly roll pan in oven while it preheats.
- Cook pasta to al dente, drain and set aside.
- While pasta is cooking, put chicken broth, beans, chipotle peppers, milk and salt in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Warm slightly and use an immersion blender to combine until smooth and creamy.
- Carefully remove hot pan from oven and place 2 Tablespoons of butter in pan to melt and coat.
- Place half the pasta in the pan and sprinkle with half the shredded cheese.
- Repeat with remaining pasta and cheese.
- Pour liquid sauce over pasta and cheese and place pan in oven.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Optional: broil for 2-5 minutes for crunchier topping.
Served the next day as leftovers is always a hit at our house. There’s nothing wrong with a breakfast of healthy mac and cheese!
Notes for this recipe:
- It helps to combine the broth, beans, milk and peppers when it’s warmed.
- If you don’t own an immersion blender, a food processor or blender will work.
- Red pepper flakes and hot sauce go really well on top if you like more spice.
- An arugula salad is an excellent side dish with just the right amount of pepper-y flavor. I like Earthbound Farm’s arugula – already triple washed – just add dressing.
- Sliced tomatoes, caramelized onions or bread crumbs are tasty toppings that can be added before baking.
What’s your favorite topping to add to mac & cheese?
Go Gingham related links:
Pumpkin and squash soup – it’s easy and delicious!
Lentils and pork – lentils are similar to beans but there’s no soaking
Sour cream chipotle sauce that is an excellent dip
Our favorite summer tomato meal – it’s called summer dinner!
Looking for more mac & cheese recipes? You’re in luck! It’s “Mac & Cheese Mania” today – Rachel of Rachel Cooks and Brandy of Nutmeg Nanny are hosting a giveaway party! There’s prizes – and lots of recipes! Look for the hashtag #MacCheeseMania and see what prizes you can win!
Even more cheesy links:
Can’t get enough mac & cheese? Me either! Check out these fabulous foodies who have mac & cheese on their blogs!
Jalapeno Popper Mac & Cheese by Heather’s Dish
Buffalo Cheddar Mac and Cheese by Eats Well With Others
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Smoked Bacon Mac and Cheese by Cravings of a Lunatic
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Spinach Queso Mac & Cheese by Bake Your Day
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French Onion Mac & Cheese by Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts
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Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese by CafeTerraBlog
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Jack Daniels Mac and Cheese by The Slow Roasted Italian
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Green Chili 5-cheese Baked Mac and Cheese by A Southern Fairytale
Homemade Elbow Noodle Tutorial + a Recipe for Roasted Veggie Mac by Bakeaholic Mama
Salsa Verde Mac-n-Cheese (two ways) by Eat2Gather
Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Crispy Panko Topping by The Lemon Bowl