It’s inevitable. It snows and I almost lose a finger. Last year I had the little incident with a mandolin. The year before my espresso machine attacked me. This year destiny upped the ante with my garage door opener throwing a tantrum. At first I thought the polar vortex had frozen everything. Nope, it was mechanical. I will probably have a fear of ladders and springs for the near future, but thankfully all extremities are accounted for and no broken bones.
Bandaged and bruised, something comforting was in order after that ordeal. Of course, I still had to keep in mind my year’s plan to get my ripped abs back. Whatever I was going to make was sure to pack in the calories, but to assuage a potential guilt trap, I needed to make sure I added some more nutritious calories to the mix. After rummaging through my crisper and throwing out the rotten cauliflower and broccoli, I came up with one, sad zucchini on it’s last leg. Then I remembered the zucchini twist I had made on my Poogan’s Porch mac and cheese over the summer following a fun Farmer’s Market morning. Mac and cheese – it was fate!
My favorite thing about this particular mac and cheese is the color. How pretty are all those green specks from the zucchini and chopped herbs? You can’t even taste the squash if you’re worried about losing the essence of the gooey, creamy dish. See how easy it is to add a healthy twist to your favorite comfort food? When I get my next craving, I’m hoping to substitute some of the pasta for cauliflower to help lower the calorie count. I’m not giving up on my abs yet!
Zucchini Mac and Cheese
- 1 to 1 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere, Emmental, or Cheddar cheese (or a combination of)
- 2 cups whole milk
- 4-5 tablespoons butter
- 3-4 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 a sweet onion small dice, appx 1/2 cup
- 1 large zucchini, shredded (if you want it packed with veggies, use 2 zucchini!)
- 1 bay leaf
- ground nutmeg
- salt and pepper
- 6 ounces small pasta, such as shells or elbow, aapx half a box
- 3-4 tablespoons bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Pre-heat oven to 400 Fahrenheit and cook pasta to al dente according to package directions
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. When melted, add onions and cook until soften.
- Sprinkle flour over onions and stir to coat. Cook 2-3 minutes to cook out the raw flour flavor.
- Stir in milk, breaking up any the four clumps. Bring to a simmer.
- Add bayleaf the reduce heat to medium. Let mixture simmer until thickened, about 7-10 minutes.
- Stir in shredded cheese about 2 tablespoons at a time to create a thick cheese sauce.
- Fold shredded zucchini into the cheese sauce. Taste sauce and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
- Allow sauce to come to a bubble again, then remove from heat.
- Add pasta to the cheese sauce mixture and stir to coat. Pour into a casserole dish. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, stir breadcrumbs and olive oil together. If using plain breadcrumbs, season as desired.
- Sprinkle mac and cheese with breadcrumbs and bake 15-20 minutes until bubbly.