How do you get kids to eat their vegetables? If you believe Hidden Valley, you just dip them in ranch. But growing up my mom had an even better solution – smother them in cheese, from a block of processed American cheese. She used to steam broccoli and carrots and then melt a little bit of cheese on top. Yum! So when I saw Damaris Philips make a version of this recipe on her show Southern at Heart, I knew I had to try it.
It turned out to be quick and easy and turned my mom’s veggies and cheese into an actual meal. One of the reasons this is so quick and easy is we skip the step of making a béchamel and just melt the cheese into some milk. One of the joys of using processed American cheese is that the milk will serve to thin it out into the perfect sauce consistency.
I changed up the original recipe a little bit by adding some cauliflower and grating garlic into the sauce – because garlic goes great with everything.
Here’s what you need:
If you want some protein stir in some leftover chicken. I used some leftover rotisserie chicken when I ate the leftovers and it was pretty yummy.
I used a bag of ready to steam broccoli and cauliflower because I knew I wasn’t going to use a whole head of both. Chop the broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots into small pieces. I used about ¾ c of broccoli and cauliflower and a ½ cup of carrots.
Toss them in a bowl and season with salt and pepper then drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.
Spread on a foil lined baking sheet and roast in a 425 degree oven for about 12-15 minutes until the veggies are tender and you start to see some browning on the broccoli and cauliflower.
Cook the macaroni according to package directions.
Next we’ll make the cheese sauce. Note, you actually want to make this with processed American cheese. The first time I made this I made it, I was thinking about this friend of mine who doesn’t like American cheese because it’s not ‘real’ cheese so I decided to try using American cheese slices that were really a mix of Colby with cream cheese to make it meltier (like you see in the photo). Well let me tell you it was tasty, but it was also a little stringy. It’s totally fine but the next time I used traditional American cheese and it melted and incorporated a lot better.
To make the cheese sauce, you’re going to want to cut the Colby Jack into small cubes or grate it and tear the American into small pieces.
Pour the milk into a large saucepan, add the cheese, and grate in the garlic using a microplane. Turn the heat to medium and stir constantly until the cheese is melted and smooth. Season with pepper.
Stir in the macaroni.
Now add the roasted veggies.
Stir everything together.
And finally dish yourself up a nice big bowl. And enjoy the cheesy, gooey, bowl of macaroni with tender roasted veggies. It’s the ultimate mash-up of macaroni and cheese and my mom’s carrots & broccoli with cheese.
- 1 medium carrot, diced – about ½ c
- ¾ c broccoli cut into small florets
- ¾ c cauliflower cut into small florets
- 1 T olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 2 c elbow macaroni
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- ½ c whole milk
- 6 slices American cheese
- 2 oz Colby Jack cheese, grated or diced
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.
- In a large bowl add the carrots, broccoli, cauliflower. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss together. Spread on baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes until the broccoli and cauliflower begin to brown. Set aside.
- Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain.
- While macaroni is cooking prepare the cheese sauce. In a large sauce pan combine the garlic, milk, and both cheeses. Heat over medium and stir constantly until the cheese is melted and forms a sauce.
- Stir macaroni into the cheese sauce. Add roasted vegetables and stir to mix into cheese sauce.