Still craving hard-core comfort foods in our house during these tumultuous times, Chris came up with the idea to combine mac and cheese with broccoli cheddar soup for dinner last night. So, I set forth and whipped up this decadent creation, full of carbs and creamy cheese sauce, and some broccoli for health (even though this is still mostly mac and cheese, let’s be honest here).
I chose to roast my broccoli for this recipe, which gives the dish a nice, toasty bitterness that I really enjoyed. However, feel free to steam the broccoli for quick cooking and a cleaner, brighter flavor of the end result. Both variations will be good! Roasting broccoli usually takes me about 45 minutes at 375F, while steaming would take about 10-15 minutes or so total, so choose the path that works best for you! Pre-cooking the broccoli is a key step here, as it gets tossed in the mac and cheese at the end and will not cook along with the pasta. Leftover/meal prepped broccoli will work here as well, just as long as it’s pre-cooked and tender. If you’re not a broccoli fan or are looking for a way to sneak in some veggies that kids may not notice, try switching the broccoli for cauliflower! The mild flavor and pasta-like color will allow the cauliflower to blend into the cheese sauce perfectly.
For the mac and cheese base, I used my favorite recipe from Serious Eats that results in an ultra-creamy stovetop mac and cheese, with plenty of sauce remaining to coat all of the broccoli. The original recipe is linked here, although I wrote it out again in my words below for ease of use in this recipe. Just know that the credit for the mac and cheese base goes to them, it’s a brilliant recipe that always has great results.
Recipe down below, photo up top! This is a scaled-up version that is definitely enough for a family of 4 (I don’t know why I made so much last night, but here we are with plenty of leftovers for the week). If you’re also looking for some comfort this week, give this a try!
Broccoli and Cheddar Mac and Cheese
- 2 cups of broccoli, separated into florets
- 1 (1 lb) box of elbow macaroni
- 1 12 oz can of evaporated milk
- 12 oz shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- To roast broccoli, preheat oven to 375F. Separate broccoli into small (1-2 inch) florets, and arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet tray. Toss with olive oil and bake for 30-45 minutes, until broccoli is fully tender and crispy/browned along the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Alternatively, to boil/steam the broccoli, set up a pot or sauté pan big enough to hold all of the broccoli. Separate the broccoli into small (1-2 inch) florets, and put them into the pot. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan by 1 inch, and cover the pan with the lid. Cook over high heat until steam is fully filling the pan and the broccoli become bright green and tender, about 5-10 minutes. Once cooked, drain broccoli in a colander in the sink and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Shake to remove excess water, set aside.
- For the mac and cheese, add all of the pasta to a large pot, and add just enough water to cover the pasta. Put the pan over high heat and bring the water to a full boil, stirring occasionally.
- Once the water is fully boiling, begin to check the pasta for doneness by tasting, and continue to stir the pasta. Once the pasta is fully cooked, the water should have boiled down considerably, although there should still be plenty of starchy water left. This will become part of the sauce.
- Add the evaporated milk, salt, and mustard powder to the pasta, stir to combine. Cook the pasta over medium high heat to bring the evaporated milk up to a boil. Once it starts to bubble slightly, turn the heat off of the pasta.
- Add the cheese to the pasta and stir to combine, and watch as your watery, milky noodles transform into ultra creamy mac and cheese before your eyes. Once the cheese is fully incorporated, add the broccoli and stir to combine.
- Serve immediately in a nice, comforting bowl. Enjoy!