17 June 2008

Broccoli Cheddar Mac

Last week we got our first CSA delivery (well Zach went to pick it up, but that's another story) and since it had been so hot here, we got an extra helping of most of the vegetables as they had started to grow so quickly. While it was exciting to suddenly have a fridge full of vegetables it was also a little daunting, as we'd need to come up with some way to eat them all in one week, a challenge slightly complicated by the fact that I'm in class three nights a week at the moment.

Among our vegetable bounty was several pounds of broccoli. This wasn't your average broccoli- the color was much lighter and the stalks were very fine and almost delicate, instead of the short stumpy tree like broccoli you get in the grocery store. As I was thinking about cooking possibilities it suddenly became Saturday and the pressure was on to use as much broccoli as possible before our next pickup on Monday. I was flipping through a Rachel Ray cookbook (while I was avoiding my homework) and came accross a recipe for macaroni and cheese with broccoli.

The recipe caught my eye and I decided to give it a try, with a few modifications, for dinner. I lowered the amount of pasta and quadriupled the broccoli. The recipe also seemed like it would make an obscene quantity of cheese sauce, so I cut it back a bit too. I did use the recommended ammount of spices though, but thought that the cayenne and smoked paprika overpowered the cheddar, so I have adjusted the recipes accordingly in the recipe below. One last note- our broccoli was so tender I didn't cook it, just let it heat through with the pasta and sauce. If you're using regular grocery store broccoli, you will probably want to drop it into the pasta water for the last minute or two of cooking.

Broccoli Cheddar Mac
Adapted from Rachel Ray, 365: No Repeats
Serves 8-10 for a light dinner

10 oz. whole wheat elbow pasta
4 heads of broccoli, tops cut into florets and the stalk trimmed and cut into 1 in. pieces
2 T. butter
1/3 C. chopped onion
2 T. flour
pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 t. smoked paprika
3 C milk
8 oz. very sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
salt and pepper to taste

- Put the broccoli in a large bowl (the one you will serve in).

- Cook pasta according to pasta directions, drain and pour over broccoli.

- Just before you put in the pasta, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onion. Cook for 3-4 minutes to soften. Add the flour and spices and stir very briskly for 1 minute to create a blond roux. Add about half the milk and stir continuously until it comes to a boil. Add remaining milk and continue stirring until it comes to a boil. Take the pan off the heat and stir in cheddar cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

- Pour cheese sauce over broccoli and pasta and stir to combine. Serve immediately.

This reheats much better than I thought it would. The sauce is on the thinner side so doesn't make a congealed mass the next day.


kat said...

the broccoli from our CSA has been amazing too, i just love it when its thin & tender like that. seems like you found the same thing about Rachel Ray recipes i did, the amounts are huge!

Nicole said...

This sounds really good! I don't know why I never thought to add broccoli to mac and cheese, but it's brilliant!