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Stovetop Mac and Cheese
with white beans / broccoli / bell peppers

Active: 45 min Total: 45 min
We couldn't leave well enough alone and gave this classic comfort food a boost with white beans for added protein and colorful vegetables for flavor and nutrition. Feel free to skip the panko topping if you're short on time, but it does give the top of this super creamy mac and cheese a nice crunchy texture.
Smarts #1: Be careful not to overcook the pasta since it will continue to cook a bit more as it's tossed with the other warm ingredients. Also, don't forget to add the broccoli to the pasta in the last minute of cooking.
Smarts #2: The keys to avoiding gritty mac and cheese are 1) to grate the cheese yourself, avoiding pre-grated cheese and 2) to add the cheese in small increments, whisking well after each addition.

Ingredients

Metric
Servings:
4
Stovetop Mac and Cheese with White Beans:
  • Bell peppers, red - 1, diced
  • Broccoli - 12 oz, finely chopped
  • Garlic - 2 cloves, chopped
  • Cheese, extra-sharp cheddar - 6 oz, grated (we used white cheddar; don't buy pre-shredded cheese as it can make the finished dish grainy)
  • Beans, navy or cannellini (14 oz / 397 g) - 1 can, drained and rinsed
  • Pasta, gluten-free elbow macaroni - 8 oz (sub any gluten-free pasta shape)
  • Butter - 2 Tbsp + 2 Tbsp
  • Panko breadcrumbs, gluten-free (opt) - 1/4 cup
  • Flour, any gluten-free - 2 Tbsp (sub almond flour / meal)
  • Salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Red pepper flakes (opt) - 1/4 tsp
  • Milk - 1 1/2 cups

Nutrition Facts

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Prep

  1. Bell peppers / Broccoli / Garlic / Cheese - (If prepping right before cooking, get water boiling before continuing with prep.) Prep as directed. Store separately. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  2. Beans - Drain and rinse.

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Make

  1. Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil.
  2. When water is boiling, add pasta. Cook until al dente, tender but not soggy. About 1 minute before finishing, add in broccoli. Drain.
  3. While water is boiling / pasta is cooking, heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add first part of butter until melted. Add panko with a pinch of salt. Saute until panko is lightly toasted and golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Set panko aside and wipe out pan.
  4. Return pan to heat and add second part of butter. Add bell peppers to melted butter and saute until peppers are soft, ~5 minutes.
  5. Add flour, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes (if using). Stir until no dry spots of flour remain.
  6. Slowly pour milk into the pan while whisking. Continue whisking vigorously until everything is evenly combined. Heat milk until it begins to simmer (increase heat if needed to speed this process along). Simmer milk, stirring frequently until sauce thickens, 3 to 4 minutes.
  7. Remove pan from heat. Add grated cheese a bit at a time, whisking the sauce well between each addition.
  8. Stir beans, pasta, and broccoli into sauce.
  9. Serve pasta with panko breadcrumbs sprinkled over top for some crunch. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts

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Reviews

Ratings

Original (81)
Gluten-free (5)
Paleo (4)
Vegetarian (14)

Most Helpful

New family favorite! The only changes we made were to double the garlic (we LOVE garlic) and substitute herbed breadcrumbs for the Panko since that's what we had on hand. Next time we're going to try adding either Mushrooms or crumbled bacon to mix up the flavor a bit. This one is definitely going on our rotation!

By: Lisa
Posted: Apr 28, 2020
Diet: Original
1 Helpful

65 reviews

Made with sausage instead of beans and frozen veg instead of fresh. Added diced shallots, fennel seed, and Italian seasoning to sauce for extra flavor too based on some reviews. Tasty and easy!

By: Mackenzie
Posted: Oct 25, 2021
Diet: Original
0 Helpful

I wanted to like this but I did not. I want to find a recipe for Mac and cheese that doesn't come from a box. The search continues for creamy and smooth.

By: Anne
Posted: Feb 13, 2021
Diet: Original
0 Helpful

New family favorite! The only changes we made were to double the garlic (we LOVE garlic) and substitute herbed breadcrumbs for the Panko since that's what we had on hand. Next time we're going to try adding either Mushrooms or crumbled bacon to mix up the flavor a bit. This one is definitely going on our rotation!

By: Lisa
Posted: Apr 28, 2020
Diet: Original
1 Helpful

My 3 year old ate every bite on her plate and declared that she LOVED this dinner. We are pandemic cooking so used mixed frozen veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots) which worked surprisingly well. Great pantry staples meal!

By: Amanda
Posted: Apr 05, 2020
Diet: Original
1 Helpful

Pretty good - though I added some different spices and left out the beans!

By: Andrea
Posted: Feb 21, 2020
Diet: Original
0 Helpful

Beans were hard to get used to, but helped it to be filling! I would love to mess with this recipe because overall I did like it a lot! So did roommate!

By: Esther
Posted: Feb 18, 2020
Diet: Original
0 Helpful