The ultimate comforting Skillet Mac and Cheese recipe for spring. Broccoli, asparagus, peas, and whole wheat elbow macaroni are cooked in a creamy, white bean cheese sauce with herbed breadcrumb topping.
(Sponsored by Horizon Organic.)
Early spring is a funny time of year. I’m in the mood for asparagus and peas, but I also know a foot of snow could hit us at just about any moment.
During the seasonal limbo that is early spring in the mountains, I want all the green veggies, but I still need a dinner that’s hearty and comforting. Something that’ll help me feel totally satisfied when it’s cool and damp out.
Enter this recipe for Skillet Mac and Cheese.
It’s made with a springy mix of green vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, peas, and spinach), but you’ve still got the creamy cheese sauce and crispy breadcrumb topping to satisfy all your comfort-food needs.
How to Make this Spring Vegetable Skillet Mac and Cheese:
First, you have to sauté the vegetables and cook the noodles. I used whole wheat elbow macaroni, but any type of short pasta works.
The pasta will continue to cook a bit once it’s mixed with the warm sauce at the end, so I like to drain it from the pot once it’s a little firmer than al dente. Cutting 1-2 minutes off the cooking time listed on the package instructions should do the trick.
Don’t rinse the pasta when you drain it. Rinsing can remove some of the starches that help the cheese sauce stick to the pasta once it’s all mixed together.
When you have the pasta drained and the vegetables sautéed, it’s time to make the sauce.
To keep things simple, I cooked the cheese sauce in the same skillet I used to make the vegetables. I just temporarily transferred the cooked veggies into a bowl while I whisked together the rest of the ingredients in the skillet.
One thing that makes this sauce unique is that it’s made with white beans. The beans lend an extra heartiness to this Skillet Mac and Cheese, plus some added fiber and protein, too. (The dietitian in me just couldn’t help myself.)
This Skillet Mac and Cheese
The last step for making this Spring Vegetable Skillet Mac and Cheese is the crispy herb breadcrumb topping. This part is optional, but it only takes a few extra minutes, and come on! Who doesn’t love a little crispy topping?
You can save big on Horizon Organic dairy products during the Organic Sale going on at Sprouts through April 17th. Just in time to squash your biggest early-spring comfort-food cravings!
- 8 ounces uncooked whole wheat elbow macaroni pasta or pasta of choice
- 1 tablespoon Horizon Organic unsalted butter
- 1 shallot, sliced
- 2 cups chopped broccoli
- 1 cup chopped asparagus
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 2 cups chopped spinach
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons Horizon Organic unsalted butter
- 3 cups Horizon Organic Grassfed Vitamin D Milk
- 1 ¼ cup white beans, mashed (such as great northern or white kidney beans; drain and rinse if canned)
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (reduce or omit for mild flavor)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
- ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon Horizon Organic unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon dry basil or oregano (optional)
- Salt and pepper
- Optional garnish:
- Chopped fresh herbs, such as basil or parsley
- Crushed red pepper
Add pasta to large stockpot of boiling water and cook 4 minutes, or until slightly firmer than al dente. (Boil for 1 minute less than the cooking time listed on the package.) Drain and set aside. Do not rinse.
In the meantime, add butter to a large, oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Stir in shallot and cook 2 minutes, or until softened. Stir in broccoli and asparagus and cook 4 minutes, or until the color turns bright green. Stir in green peas and spinach and cook 2 minutes, or until spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove cooked vegetables from skillet and set aside.
Add butter to same skillet used to cook vegetables. Stir in milk and mashed beans and whisk over medium heat until the texture is smooth and creamy. Stir in onion powder, crushed red pepper, and salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, or until sauce is thickened and reduced.
Stir in shredded cheddar cheese and shredded mozzarella cheese and turn off heat. Add cooked pasta and vegetables to the sauce in the skillet. (Depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to stir in a separate pot or bowl before transfering the mixture back into the skillet to thoroughly mix the components.)
Preheat broiler. Stir together breadcrumbs, softened butter, dry basil or oregano (if using), and salt and pepper.
Sprinkle breadcrumb topping over mac and cheese skillet. Broil 2 minutes, or until topping turns golden brown.
Remove from oven and garnish with chopped fresh herbs and crushed red pepper if desired.
Substitute with seasonal vegetables as needed to make this recipe year round. Sauté 3 cups of chopped seasonal vegetables with shallot (or onion) and spinach (or any greens).