Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? This version is fancied up with some lentils and veggies for a more complete version of a childhood favorite.
When it comes to macaroni and cheese, I usually gravitate towards the baked variety. Don’t get me wrong, a box of Kraft or Annie’s is pretty much always in our pantry for those desperate nights… but when I REALLY want mac and cheese, this is what I’m talking about. Ben and I can make our way through a pan of that stuff in just a few days… it’s crazy good. And now that #BabyVolde is eating more and more of my regular cooking, heaven help us. When I made that mac and cheese a few weeks ago, he gobbled it up.
While that mac and cheese will always always always be my favorite, sometimes I want mac and cheese… but with a little less cheese and a little more nutrition. Yeahhh… especially since I have a pretty non-picky-baby eater right now and I want to keep it that way. So that’s when I bring in Lentil Veggie Macaroni and Cheese. You still have your cheese and pasta… but with a little extra protein (helllllllooooo lentils) and some extra veggie power. I won’t say the lentils and veggies aren’t noticeable, but they do make this dish a bit heartier and a little healthier. I can’t wait to make it again soon–it’s absolutely delicious!
One last thing before I go… I did make this recipe into a baked mac and cheese cause that’s my favorite. #crispynoodlesforlife But if that’s not your thing, or you’re in a time crunch, you can omit the panko topping and the baking step, no problemo! Enjoy!
one year ago: Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Bars
two years ago: Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart
three years ago: Oatmeal Fudge Bars
four years ago: Neely’s Lemon Pasta Salad
five years ago: Pineapple-Apricot Teriyaki Chicken
six years ago: Sweet and Tangy Pork Chops with Pineapple over Coconut Toasted Rice
Lentil Veggie Macaroni and Cheese
slightly adapted from The Lean Green Bean
- 8 ounces dry pasta
- 3/4 cup lentils
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3-4 cups mixed vegetables, diced – can be fresh or frozen, or a combination
- 5 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted – or 3 handfuls fresh baby spinach
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a large baking dish – 9×13 inches or similar and set aside.
Prepare pasta according to package directions. Prepare lentils according to package directions.
While pasta and lentils are cooking, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds until fragrant, then stir in mixed vegetables and spinach. Saute for 5-10 minutes until softened – less for frozen vegetables and more for fresh. Sprinkle with flour, paprika, and cayenne, then stir to coat. Add milk and cheese, stirring until well combined.
Carefully fold in pasta and lentils, then transfer mixture into greased baking dish.
In a small bowl, melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in the microwave. Toss with panko, then sprinkle panko mixture over the macaroni mixture.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until bubbly. Enjoy!
Note: If baked pasta isn’t your thing or you’re in a time crunch, just omit the panko and baking steps. It’ll be just fine without it. 🙂