Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cold Weather Comfort Casserole

After last night's vegan-licious dinner chili, I was craving something on the cheesey side tonight.

Hint: Think a little sharp cheddar, a load of veggies, some hearty pasta, and big smile on my face.

You guessed it: An innovative combination of grown-up mac n' cheese, and a vegetarian version of turkey tetrazzini (these are words Adam used to describe the dish after his first bite).

Let's get one thing straight: Mac n' cheese gets a bad name from the impostor "cheeses" that have invaded the inner shelves of grocery stores. With options like Kraft's orange cheese-flavored powder, and Velveeta's squeezable pouches of cheesy goo, it's no wonder most healthy adults run in the opposite direction of these boxed products.

Tonight's "Grown-Up Mac n' Cheese/Vegetarian Tetrazzini" recipe, inspired by Clean Eating, offers the perfect solution. All the goodness of a traditional comfort food casserole, without Sponge Bob shaped noodles, powdered cheese product, or meat. Just use whole wheat pasta, high-quality cheese, and loads o' veggies, and you've got a classy grown-up meal on your hand.

I would recommend using penne or rotini pasta for this casserole. I resorted to spaghetti because it was the only lonely box of pasta in the cabinet.

So tonight, if you're shielding yourself from the outdoor temperature of 4 degrees like I am, bake up a batch of this warm and comforting casserole. Afterwards, I recommend a spirited present-wrapping session (Adam is currently sporting his Santa hat as he enthusiastically wraps the gifts).

Grown-Up Mac n' Cheese/Vegetarian Tetrazzini
(adapted from a Clean Eating Magazine recipe)

Nothing warms you up on a cold day like a warm, hearty casserole. The chopped almond topping adds a great healthy crunch, and a nice change from the traditional bread crumb topping.

  • 1 cup skim milk
  • sprinkling of flour
  • 2 cups reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 8 oz. whole wheat pasta
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 - 1/2 cups broccoli forets
  • 1 - 1/2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped almonds
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a 2 qt. casserole dish with cooking spray.

2) In a saucepan, whisk together the milk and a little flour over medium heat. Stir constantly and bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for about 3 - 4 minutes. Stir in cheeses and salt, stirring until melted. Stir in yogurt, cover, and set aside.

3) Cook pasta according to package directions. Three minutes before pasta is done, add the carrots, onion, broccoli, and cauliflower. When pasta is done, drain veggies and pasta and return to pot. Stir in cheese mixture and parsley and pour into casserole dish. Sprinkle with almonds and bake for about 20 minutes, or until heated through.


  1. Looks great! I've never added almonds to anything other than green beans but this looks like a tasty combo! =)

    Jenn @ Peas & Crayons

  2. Yum, that looks super comforting. I really like casseroles.. all that goodness in one serving...

  3. So, obviously Marcus thinks that meat is a non-negotiable when it comes to meals.

    This little treasure would be a completely acceptable dinner in his book, considering that it contains all of his favorite veggies.

    I.O.U. Big time.

  4. This is totally my kind of dinner! I love mac 'n cheese, but always feel bloated and unsatisfied when I eat a full portion of the "real" thing. Love this!

  5. I totally get freaked out by all the weirdo processed cheeses in the grocery stores--I don't understand how parents can let their kids eat that kinda stuff!! I grew up on everything made from scratch, so I will no doubt do the same!
    I love the sounds of the recipe you used--the yogurt is a great addition!

  6. This sounds like a delicious casserole! Definitely in need of some comfort food during these cold days!

  7. I have a confession to make... I like mac and cheese that comes from a box! It's like a guilty pleasure of mine. But - mac and cheese is one of my favorite things in the world, and I am truly an equal opportunity lover when it comes to mac and cheese :) I will love it from a box as much I love the one you made with these wonderful cheese and vegetables.

  8. oh I love how you added yogurt! That's such a good idea to make it creamy :)

  9. Gah, I've so been craving mac 'n cheese for the longest time! This sounds like the perfect fix that I'll need to make soon.

  10. Totally making this this week! The weather finally cooled down, and this looks so comforting and belly warming :)

  11. Yum! I just got the new CE magazine and bookmarked a ton of recipes! This looks awesome!