Makes 6-8 servings
• Baking dish, about 9 X 11 inches
• Large pot and medium pot
• Large sieve for draining macaroni
• Cutting board, cutting knife, if chopping vegetables
• Wooden spoon
• Wire whisk
• Measuring cup, measuring spoons
• Oven mitts
• 3 ½ Tbs butter
• 3 Tbs all-purpose flour
• 2 ½ cups milk
• 2 cups grated cheddar + 1 cup for sprinkling on top
• 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed, OR a few handfuls of fresh baby spinach
• 3 cups macaroni, preferably whole wheat
• 4 Tbs breadcrumbs, preferably whole wheat
• Salt & pepper
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Grate the cheese
3. Start a large pot of water boiling, for the macaroni. When it boils, add about a tablespoon of salt, then carefully pour in the macaroni. Give it a stir to make sure none is sticking to the bottom, then boil for however long it says on the package. Drain in large sieve over the sink, then return to pot.
4. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about a minute. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the sauce thickens.
5. Turn off heat, add the 2 cups of grated cheese and stir until melted. Season lightly with salt & pepper. Stir in spinach.
6. Add cheese sauce to macaroni and stir well.
7. Spread macaroni in baking dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup grated cheddar on top, then sprinkle breadcrumbs over.
8. Put dish in oven and bake 20-30 minutes until topping is browned and macaroni is bubbling. If topping doesn’t brown, give it a minute under the broiler, but not too close, and watch carefully!
9. Let sit a few minutes before serving.
You can use other chopped up vegetables in place of spinach. If you use fresh vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower, you can throw them in the boiling water with the macaroni for the last 5 minutes of cooking. If you use mushrooms, slice and sauté them lightly before mixing into the cheese sauce.
You can also use other types of cheese, as well as or instead of cheddar.
Adapted from Vegetarian Food for Kids, by Laura Washburn (2011)