Updated: Apr 5, 2021
Nothing tastes more like childhood than mac and cheese, right? Maybe you have toddlers or teens that request it daily but you're sick of the chalky boxed version. If so, try our 'refresh' on this classic fave - just in time for your Easter spread!
We’ve added chunks of (low-sodium) ham and our Micro Broccoli (think broccoli cheddar soup). When it's all said and done, we’re not sure if this dish is a hearty side or the main course. You decide! And with Easter around the corner, this dish is a real crowd pleaser that goes with most main courses, such as Chicken, Pork or Steak. Your family will be thankful!
Thinking about meal prep, you might decide to double the recipe and freeze half. What better way to prepare food in advance for gatherings so you can enjoy more of the family/friend fun. If you have a dutch oven or larger pot, this recipe is easy to double.
Now let’s talk about ingredients – traditional versus modern. There’s a fine line between switching up a few of ingredients versus replacing them all when it comes to tinkering with a classic. That's why this dish is not 100% vegan or dairy-free. However, the vegan and non-dairy substitutes we make are done because the products taste amazing. We promise, you'll love the end result!
Since we were kids, mac n cheese is ALL about the cheesy taste! Our swaps carve some fat, sodium and carb calories, but not taste. We don't want the mac n cheese police after us! Let your kids be the taste-testers.
How do we top all that? With amazing toppings, of course.
The creamy pasta, cheese and ham aren't complete without our Micro Broccoli added inside and on top, along with the crushed cornflakes and a dash of melted butter. With Broccoli at the top of every nutrition board for its proven antioxidants and vitamins, we think the end result is a timeless comfort food that everyone loves, with a dash of nutrition that everyone needs. And we hope you return to this recipe often, whether for a nostalgic family meal or a special dish during holidays. Wither way, your family and friends are going to love it!
But don’t take our word for it, let’s get casse-rolling!
1 lb. uncooked cellentani (corkscrew) pasta (We used Banza Cavatappi, made from chickpeas)
2 tablespoons butter (sub: Earth Balance is our go-to vegan brand),
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (sub with Bob's Red Mills gluten-free flour)
3 cups fat-free milk (sub with vegan Ripple, for its extra-creamy texture)
1 (12-oz.) can fat-free evaporated milk
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded smoked Gouda cheese
1/2 cup (2 oz.) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
3 ounces fat-free cream cheese, softened (Kite Hill makes an almond milk version)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper, divided into 2 portions
8-10 oz. pre-cooked ham, cut into small square chunks (look for light sodium choice)
cooking spray (coconut or avocado)
1 1/4 cups cornflakes cereal, crushed
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 ½ cups BrightFresh Micro Broccoli
Preheat oven to 350° and begin boiling water in a 6-qt. pan.
Cook Pasta according to package directions (Banza says 12-15 min. at high boil.)
Strain pasta, then fold in a dash of butter or oil so pasta doesn't stick. Set aside.
Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Gradually whisk in flour; cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute.
Gradually whisk in milk and evaporated milk until smooth; cook, whisking constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until slightly thickened.
Whisk in shredded Gouda cheese, shredded Sharp Cheddar, Cream Cheese and the salt & ground red pepper until smooth.
Remove from heat and stir in ham, pasta and Micro Broccoli. Fold until well-mixed.
Coat a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Pour in pasta mixture.
In a small bowl: stir together crushed cereal (put cereal in a sandwich bag and crush with a roller or spatula), 1 Tbsp. melted butter, and remaining 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper.
Evenly sprinkle the Crumbled Topping over the top of your casserole.
Bake casserole at 350° for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
Let stand 5 minutes before serving. While cooling, sprinkle Micro Broccoli on top of casserole. Cut in squares or scoop out wildly - it's your cheesy choice!
Be Delicious. With BrightFresh.
Inspo: Southern Living