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

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.