One Skillet (Carroty) Macaroni and Cheese
I often get asked what I think about sneaking vegetables into recipe, and on the whole I am not a fan. Spinach hidden in brownies? No thank you, sir. In the long run I don’t think it’s a good idea because it sends (or probably reinforces) the message to kids that vegetables are icky and awful and need to be smuggled into food like a stowaway in the hopes that they won’t be discovered. And it seems like a pretty big jump to then image a kid will go from, “Huh, I didn’t realize there was spinach in my brownie,” to “I think maybe spinach isn’t so bad! I think I’ll eat a plateful!” Plus it might make a perfectly good brownie taste not so great. No one wins there.
But that’s a very different thought from the notion that infusing some crowd/kid-pleasing foods with an extra dose of vegetables or various nutritious extras is not a good one. It’s a great one! My kids never even noticed the carrots, onions, and bell peppers in the beefy noodle casserole I make, or the fried rice, or many other dishes that invite you to toss in some extra chopped up vegetables just for the hell of it.
So I was not trying to hide the carrots in this dish at all, but since I had just bought a 5 pound bag at the store (I am such a sucker for a good bulk purchase), and since I was grating orange cheddar for the cheese sauce, it seemed like a good idea to keep on grating orange things (oh, grating blade of the food processor, you are so beautiful). Did my kids notice the carrots? Yeah, they did. Did they mind them? Nope. Because they were eating macaroni and cheese!
One Skillet (Carroty) Macaroni and CheesePrint
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 4 large carrots, peeled and shredded
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 pound pound penne or ziti
- Coarse or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 4 cups whole milk
- 4 cups grated sharp cheddar (about 1 pound)
1. In a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add the carrots, onions, and pasta, season with salt and pepper and saute for about 4 minutes until the carrots and onions begin to soften. Add the mustard and 3 cups of water and raise the heat to medium high. Cover the pot, bring the water to a simmer, lower the heat, and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally for about 12 minutes until almost all of the water is absorbed and the pasta has started to soften.