I’m being very high maintenance today.
Yes. I am asking you to roast a pan of vegetables. And THEN make an entire dish of mac and cheese.
But it’s MAC AND CHEESE! Won’t you do anything for mac and cheese? Just me?
See, I really don’t take issue with such things, probably because I will forever prefer my vegetables in a bath of cheese sauce over some simple salt and pepper.
Here’s the deal: if you’re going to ask me if it is really imperative that you roast the veggies? The answer is yes. Heck, grill them if you want. Roast them ahead of time. Just get that flavor. This dish was inspired by a frittata with queso that I had at the aviary brunch a few weeks ago. I don’t even like fritattas and I can’t stop thinking about it. I mean, we are talking about a fritatta, not only with creamy queso cheese, but also with roasted vegetables like corn. It was to die for. I’m trying to vehemently to recreate that fritatta recipe for the book right now in the last hour, after I finished the recipes months ago. THAT’s how much I loved it.
So now? It’s like I can’t possibly eat something with cheese sauce without roasted veg. I mean, if it was up to me I’d probably only include grilled corn or something. Maybe throw in a little roasted red pepper. But since I love my invisible internet friends and know that most normal people actually eat vegetables and like eating vegetables (how foreign), I added a few more.
Plus this gave me an excellent excuse to eat a second helping of mac and cheese. As if you even need an excuse.
4 ears fresh corn
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 small summer squash, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2-3/4 pound whole wheat shell noodles
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups milk (preferably 2% or whole)
8 ounces havarti cheese, freshly grated
8 ounces white cheddar cheese, freshly grated
2 ounces parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup seasoned fine bread crumbs
1 avocado, sliced for serving
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
In a large bowl, combine corn, peppers, squash and onions with salt and pepper. Whisk together olive oil and vinegar, then add over top and toss to coat. Spread on the baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes.
When the veggies are almost finished roasting, bring water to a boil and prepare pasta according to directions - shaving 1-2 minutes off of the cooking time.
To make the cheese sauce, heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once sizzling, add flour and whisk constantly to create a roux, until golden and bubbly, about 2 minutes. Pour in milk and whisk constantly, stirring until the mixture slightly thickens. Reduce heat to low and add in 6 ounces of the havarti and cheddar and all of the parmesan, along with the minced garlic. Stir until cheese melts and sauce is thick. Taste and season with a bit of salt and pepper if desired. I usually add a pinch of nutmeg.
Add cooked pasta and vegetables to a large baking dish, tossing to coat. Pour cheese soup over top and stir to evenly distribute. Cover the top the the remaining havarti and cheddar, then the breadcrumbs. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly on top. Serve with sliced avocado if desired.
Avocado optional. (but if you love me you’ll do it.)