The mac and cheese of our childhood was like nothing else. Literally, nothing else exists like that in nature… That’s not to say I didn’t love it. I couldn’t get enough of that yummy bright orange powder mixed with loads of butter and a touch of milk. And I turned out just fine. But I can’t bear to give that “meal” to my kid. I certainly can’t deprive him of mac and cheese, but the version I’ve come up with will perhaps be a little (a lot) healthier for him than that mysterious non-perishable powder. And I feel better as a result of making it for him. Plus he gets his veggies as well.
My version of mac and cheese is a big hit in our house. My son loves it, and my husband and I sneak spoonfuls of it while I’m preparing it. You know, to “taste” it to make sure it’s ok for the baby. Here’s how I do it.
I prefer Acine de Pepe (pictured above) because the small noodles are easy for my son’s semi-toothless mouth, and they’re a fun little shape. But I sometimes use orzo as well. You can use any pasta that works for you and your family. You can also play around with the cheeses and veggies that you use—have fun with it. The recipe below serves 2 little people (or one little person for 2 meals).
½ cup of acine de pepe or orzo
¾ cup of finely chopped broccoli (or frozen peas if you prefer)
1/3 cup of cubed cheddar (I like Vermont Cabot cheddar, but most any cheese will do. For a smokier flavor, try Gouda)
¼ cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (I sometimes use Pecorino Romano, which is slightly sharper, as well)
1 tablespoon of plain yogurt
Salt to taste
Bring 1 3/4 cups of salted water to a boil.
Add acine de pepe to the water and stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
As the pasta begins to absorb the water (about 6-7 minutes), add the broccoli and stir. When the pasta and veggies are thick and have absorbed nearly all of the water, turn the heat to low and add the cubes of cheese, the grated cheese, and the yogurt. Stir until smooth and remove from heat.
Salt to taste and serve warm (Unlike his father, my son refuses to eat cold mac and cheese…)