Creamy Carrot Mac and Cheese

Mac and Cheese in blue baking dish - Mom's Kitchen Handbook

I’m often asked what my routine is for getting dinner on the table. It’s sort of a shoot-from-the-hip style that’s based on what’s in the fridge, what looks good at the market, and most importantly, what I’m in the mood to cook and eat (the major upside of being at the helm of the stove). I’m not nearly as ordered as many of you. There is little advanced planning; no “sandwich night” or “crock pot Wednesday” or “meatless Monday.” Once in a blue moon we do indulge in “anything night,” which means I’m too tuckered out to cook and the kids eat whatever they consider dinner while I avert my eyes.

All that being said, I do have a number of dishes in my repertoire that rotate in on a pretty regular basis. Included is this Creamy Carrot Mac and Cheese, which is usually made at the request of my youngest, Virginia, who is a big fan

Creamy Carrot Mac and Cheese is adapted from a recipe by Jeremy Fox, a chef who developed a reputation for working magic with vegetables. This dish delivers a¬†sizable amount of vegetables in every serving. Swapping out some of the cheese for carrots also means it’s markedly lower in fat and calories than the traditional approach. Make it with whole grain pasta, and you add fiber as well.

Mac and Cheese in blue baking dish - Mom's Kitchen Handbook
5 from 1 vote
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Creamy Carrot Mac and Cheese

Unlike classic mac and cheese, which starts with a white sauce into which you melt loads of cheese, this version is built on a base of cooked carrots that you whirl with low-fat milk into a creamy puree. Add pasta, sharp Cheddar and chopped chives and bake until the flavors meld.
Course Dinner
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 4 to 5 servings
Author katiemorford

Ingredients

  • 1 pound carrots, peeled (about 4 large carrots)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 12 ounces penne pasta (about 4 cups dried)
  • 1 1/4 cup low-fat milk
  • 5 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (about 2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Slice the carrots very thin, put them in a medium pot and add the water and the salt. Bring to a boil, drop the heat so the water boils gently, and cover with a lid. Cook until the carrots are tender enough to mash with a fork, about 25 minutes.
  3. While the carrots cook, bring a big pot of generously salted water to a boil and cook the pasta. Reserve about a quarter cup of the pasta cooking water and then drain the pasta. Put the cooked pasta back into the pot.
  4. When the carrots are tender, put them along with any remaining carrot cooking liquid into a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the milk and puree until silky smooth. You can also do this with a blender.
  5. Stir the carrot puree into the pasta. Set aside about 1/2 cup of the cheese and add the remainder to the pasta along with the chives, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed. If the sauce seems too thick, stir in a tablespoon or two of the pasta water.
  6. Transfer pasta to a baking dish that's about 8 x 11 inches. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and bake for 20 minutes. If you want the cheese brown and crispy on top, set under the broiler just before serving.

Adapted from this recipe by chef Jeremy Fox in Food and Wine magazine

Comments

11.21.2011 at 10:59 AM #

Christine

Yumm, I’ll have to try this! I also wanted to let you know that the last two times I have logged onto your website, my antivirus has popped up to tell me a virus is trying to download onto my computer ūüôĀ

11.21.2011 at 10:59 AM #

katiemorford

Thanks for letting me know….I will look into it.

11.21.2011 at 12:11 PM #

Jennifer

I can’t wait to try this one out. Mac ‘n Cheese is the all-time-favorite dish for one of my kids and I look forward to mixing it up a bit (and to feel good about the infused veggies to boot). I welcome any and all variations on the Mac ‘n Cheese theme!!

11.26.2011 at 2:43 AM #

[email protected]

This sounds just the thing to pass along to my friend with vegetable-phobic children. Thanks for sharing this simple and healthy take on an American staple.

11.26.2011 at 2:43 AM #

katiemorford

Your welcome…hope it goes over well with the veggie-phobic crowd!

01.12.2013 at 8:47 PM #

Liz

This looks like a great recipe, thanks for sharing. How freezable is it?

01.12.2013 at 8:47 PM #

katiemorford

I find Mac cheese freezes well if properly wrapped.

02.04.2013 at 6:31 PM #

Ceci

Thanks for this recipe! The family really liked the taste and I loved that it cut out so much of the fat found in traditional mac and cheese recipes.

10.10.2013 at 9:19 PM #

Amy Brown

I find this works well with any number of veggie purees – squash of all kind and cauliflower to name just a couple, but any of the more bland vegetables will do.

10.10.2013 at 9:19 PM #

katiemorford

Great suggestion Amy. I often do this with butternut squash as well.

10.14.2013 at 11:15 AM #

felicia beanum

I made this last night and the kids loved it. Kept the vegetable ingredients a secret for the first bite. I didn’t have enough carrots so i added cauliflower & small amount of yams. Delish!!! Thanks Katie!

10.14.2013 at 11:15 AM #

katiemorford

That made my day!

10.24.2013 at 11:53 AM #

Sarah

I made this last night and it was a very big hit! I made the puree about a week ago and froze it, which worked very well and made it a quicker dinner to prepare.

10.24.2013 at 11:53 AM #

katiemorford

Hi Sarah

Glad your crew liked it. Good idea making the carrot puree ahead of time.

10.27.2013 at 4:50 PM #

cooking daughter

Such a delicious recipe! Thanks for helping me cut calories and fat, yet still stay happy. I was skeptical at first but the end result was great.

10.27.2013 at 4:50 PM #

katiemorford

Ahhh…that’s so nice to hear. Cutting calories and fat AND boosting your veggies. All plus, plus.

Katie

04.24.2015 at 8:33 AM #

Robin @Robinsbite

Whaaaa? This is so brilliant! The color is gorgeous! I’m making this next week!

04.24.2015 at 8:33 AM #

katiemorford

with Dreamfield pasta…!!!

04.24.2015 at 8:33 AM #

katiemorford

Thanks Robin. The carrot just makes it look super, bright-orange cheesy. My kids are all fans.

04.24.2015 at 11:45 AM #

Jessica @ Nutritioulicious

WOW!!! This looks amazing! Mac and cheese is one of my faves and I’ve made it lots of different ways but never thought to add carrots! Definitely going to have to try this out!

04.24.2015 at 11:45 AM #

katiemorford

One of the favorites in our house. Hope you like it too! Thansk for the comment.

10.29.2018 at 1:14 AM #

Karina

Hi! I saw your pictures on another site:|
https://mothers.pk/blog/carrots-macaroni-and-cheese

10.29.2018 at 1:14 AM #

katiemorford

Thank you for letting me know! Most appreciated.

02.26.2019 at 3:15 AM #

Nina

This looks great for my picky ones especially! Is it ok to assemble it ahead of time and then wait until later in the day to take it out of the fridge and pop it into the oven for 20 mins? Could be a good one for making before and after work or an outing.

02.26.2019 at 3:15 AM #

katiemorford

I think that would work. Be sure to cover it really well so it doesn’t dry out. Let me know how it goes!
Katie

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