I’ve been craving a really yummy homemade mac and cheese and had some cheese from a party that I wanted to use up. However, on our quest to eat better and healthier, I wanted to really up the veggie factor of the mac and cheese to help offset the cheesy, creamy pasta. Also, with an impending frost about to hit the garden, it gave me an opportunity to use up the last remaining chard that was still holding on and use one of the buttercup squash too. Additionally, I used pasta that was made partly with zucchini and spinach and I think this type of pasta worked really well in this baked pasta dish.
I used a Penzey’s spice called Krakow Nights for this dish. Its a mix of salt, pepper, sugar, coriander, garlic, mustard and other spices. If you don’t have it, you could just use ground mustard in a little lower amount.
Feel free to use different cheeses, but I think the comte and emmentaler cheeses were a great combination for a really delicious, nutty mac and cheese.
Veggie Mac and Cheese
Serves 6-8 as a main, 8-10 as a side
- 8 ounces comte cheese
- 8 ounces emmentaler
- 1 buttercup or butternut squash
- 1 bunch chard
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoon Krakow Nights spice (or 2 teaspoons ground mustard and 1/2 teaspoon salt)
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 5 cups whole milk
- 12 ounces veggie pasta (I used Barilla Veggie Rotini)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 10 wheat crackers
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 375º.
Use a food processor or box shredder to shred the cheese. Set aside.
Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Roast flesh side down for 25-30 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork, but still holds it shape. Set aside until cool enough to touch.
Meanwhile, wash the chard and remove the leaves from the stems. Discard the stems or reserve for another use. Chop the leaves in half lengthwise and then chop in strips horizontally. Bring a pot with a 1/4 cup of water to a boil and add the chard leaves and cover.
After about 2-3 minutes, stir the leaves until just wilted.
Remove from heat and drain in a colander. Once the leaves are cool, squeeze any additional water out of the chard.
Take the cooled squash and peel the skin off the squash with a paring knife then chop the flesh up in to small cubes. Set aside.
Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the flour and spices and stir well to combine. Cook until the color deepens slightly, about 1-2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk.
Bring to a boil, which should take about 10-12 minutes, whisking very frequently to prevent the bottom from scorching. Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce thickens up.
Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave in a medium bowl. Add the crushed wheat crackers and Parmesan cheese and mix well. Set aside.
Add the shredded cheese to the milk mixture and stir until fully incorporated and melted.
Add the cooked pasta and stir to combine. Finally, add the cooked chard and squash and stir until completely incorporated. Spread the pasta in a 9×13 inch dish.
Sprinkle the buttered crushed crackers on top of the pasta.
Bake the mac and cheese for 20 minutes at 375º, until bubbly and the cracker topping is lightly browned.
You can make the mac and cheese, without the cracker topping, ahead of time and store in the fridge for up to a day ahead of time, but let it come to room temperature before putting the cracker topping on and putting it in the oven.