sneaky mac and cheese
I’m tiptoeing my way into the realm of recipe development and finding it, at times, to be somewhat difficult and frustrating. Tonight I thought I had solved the recipe for vegan banana oat cookies, but no. Not quite. So close.
Sometimes, though, things just fall into place. 6 cups leftover macaroni + those last four carrots in the crisper bin + almond milk + a few other odds and ends= sneaky macaroni success!
Can those four little carrots make a guilty pleasure such as macaroni and cheese feel a little less indulgent? Why yes, yes they can! And! Bonus feature! If, say, you really prefer extra-sharp white cheddar, your mac and cheese will still manage to emerge bathed in a comforting shade of orange, just like the boxed stuff from your childhood. Yes!
I’m hoping that on the next go ’round, I’ll be able to somehow make a roux without butter–I dunno–reduce almond milk, add flour? Is this just a case of the 4am crazy-brains? We’ll see…
Regardless, this recipe is good enough to share here and now. It’s extremely creamy and subtle, with the almond milk and carrots lurking meekly in the background.
Sneaky Mac and Cheese
8 ounces peeled and trimmed carrots (about 4 small), cut into 1/4″ slices
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups milk (I used half almond milk, half cow’s)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper, to taste
6 cups cooked macaroni (3 cups or 3/4 pound dry)
6 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (about 1 1/2 cups) plus more for topping, if desired
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a casserole dish or 9×13 pan with no-stick.
Bring 1/4 cup water to a simmer, add carrots, cover. Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until tender. Transfer to a blender along with 1 1/2 cups milk; blend until carrots are pulverized. Set aside.
In a 2 quart oven-safe pot, melt butter over medium heat until it is gently sizzling; stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute. Stir in carrot/milk mixture and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened. Season with salt and pepper, being cautious with the salt since the cheese will do most (possibly all, depending on your tastes) of the work in the sodium department. Stir in cooked macaroni and most of the shredded cheese until well-combined. Sprinkle reserved cheese over the top, and cover with foil or a lid.
Bake for 15-20 minutes with foil/lid on, then another 5-10 without to lightly brown the cheese.