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Mac and Cheese with Carrots Recipe

A casserole dish of baked mac and cheese with carrots.


This mac and cheese with carrots from Melissa Clark is not only delish but it’s also kid-friendly. If you’ve been searching for ways to get more veggies into your kiddos, this might help. Shreds of carrot are easily disguised in a rich, creamy Cheddar sauce and their sweetness only adds to the flavor.

A casserole dish of baked mac and cheese with carrots.

Like most little kids, my daughter Dahlia loves macaroni and cheese, and I‘ve made it for her in many guises, running the gamut of techniques. My aim is always the same — to make the dish quickly with a minimum of fuss, and to use a maximum of vegetables that she will tolerate and not pick out.

This is one of both our favorites. It’s creamy, comforting, crusty-topped, soft-centered, and very cheesy – but not at all sophisticated. Just simple, kid-friendly, homemade food with the added grown-up appeal of lots of healthful carrots tossed into the mix. I got the idea from a chef’s recipe in a glossy food magazine. I decided to come up with my own simplified and ultra-Cheddary version. It was a huge hit with the under-three crowd and their parents, too.

This carrot mac and cheese is a straightforward recipe that comes together without much fuss, other than having to grate some carrots. But to make up for that, I’ve eliminated the need to make a cheese sauce on the top of the stove. Instead, I toss the hot pasta with grated cheddar, butter, sour cream for creaminess, and eggs to hold it all together.

The grated carrots get boiled along with the pasta, so cooking them isn’t an extra step. And the tiny orange shreds look so much like the cheddar that your kids might not even notice they are there. Dahlia certainly hasn’t, and while I’ve never lied to her about their inclusion, I might have left out the word carrot in the dish description — accidentally, of course.–Melissa Clark

Mac and Cheese FAQs

How should I serve this carrot mac and cheese?

This is one of those macaroni and cheeses with an eggy custard base that puffs as it cooks and is cut into squares, like a casserole, as opposed to that gooey, creamy, stove-top béchamel sauce version. Feed this dish to the kids as is; grown-ups should indulge with a squirt of fiery Sriracha or other hot sauce all over the top.

Can I use a different type of cheese?

You can vary the cheese to give this dish more personality. Gruyère, aged Cheddar, pecorino, and aged Gouda will all add a sophisticated allure that will raise it above mere kids’ food.

How can I quickly grate the carrots?

Use your food processor. And while you’re at it, grate the Cheddar with it as well. No need to clean it in between.

Mac and Cheese with Carrots

A casserole dish of baked mac and cheese with carrots.

This mac and cheese with carrots is loved by kids and adults alike. I’ve cut down on lots of steps and managed to include some stealthy healthy carrots, too. Dinner sorted.

Melissa Clark

Prep 20 mins

Cook 40 mins

Total 1 hr

  • Preheat the oven to 400° F (204°C). Adjust the oven rack to the top third of the oven. Butter an 8-inch (20-cm) square baking dish.

  • Cook the macaroni according to package instructions, adding the grated carrots about 3 minutes before the pasta is due to be done. Drain the pasta and carrots in a colander.

  • Dump the hot pasta and carrots back into the pot and stir in 2 1/2 cups of the Cheddar and all of the butter. In another bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, salt, mustard powder, and pepper, and then fold this mixture into the pasta. Scrape the cheesy pasta into the prepared dish and sprinkle with the remaining Cheddar and the Parmesan.

  • Bake the carroty mac and cheese casserole until it’s firm to the touch and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let it cool for a few minutes, then slice or scoop it straight from the baking dish.

Serving: 1portionCalories: 574kcal (29%)Carbohydrates: 38g (13%)Protein: 24g (48%)Fat: 36g (55%)Saturated Fat: 22g (138%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 162mg (54%)Sodium: 924mg (40%)Potassium: 536mg (15%)Fiber: 4g (17%)Sugar: 7g (8%)Vitamin A: 17603IU (352%)Vitamin C: 6mg (7%)Calcium: 550mg (55%)Iron: 2mg (11%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Originally published January 2, 2012

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