This recipe is so versatile. It’s a vegged out version of mac and cheese that can be served without the bacon as a vegetarian dinner or as a side dish. It’s hearty, it’s comforting, and it’s a crowd pleaser for adults and kids alike. And as far as mac and cheese goes, it’s well balanced and pretty healthy for you too. I was first inspired to do a mac and trees by Rachael Ray…this recipe is very similar to her recipe but with the added bacon and shallot. As she would say, it’s yummo!
1 pound penne pasta (I always use whole wheat pasta. Always. It has so much more nutrition, but that’s your call.)
2 large heads of broccoli trimmed and cut into florets
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
6 slices of turkey bacon, chopped (or pork bacon or simply omit altogether)
1 shallot, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 cups milk
2 cups cheddar cheese (I always use sharp)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Bring water to boil in large pot and add in pasta, cook about 2 minutes then add broccoli to pasta. Continue cooking together another 6-8 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Drain together and reserve.
While pasta is cooking, add EVOO to large oven-proof skillet (or to a regular skillet and you can transfer the dish at the end…I’ll remind you) and add bacon to crisp. Once bacon is crispy (5-6 minutes), add in shallot to saute 4-5 minutes, then add in garlic for another minute. Whisk in flour and cook another minute then whisk in stock and milk. Let sauce thicken together over medium heat about 10 minutes until sauce is thick and bubbly. Whisk in cheese. Season with S&P.
Toss reserved pasta/broccoli combo with sauce. At this point, if your dish is oven safe, stick the pasta in the oven to bubble and brown just a few minutes 5-8. If your dish isn’t oven safe, transfer to one that is and do the same. You could even add a little more cheese to the top beforehand. Extra yummy :).