Kale and Mac-n-cheese are a match made in heaven. Now, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it–especially since you’ll be feeling so much better about the heaping scoop you’ve put on your plate after you realize you’ve added a superfood to your favorite comfort meal.
If you’ve never made mac-n-cheese from scratch, it’s such a fun recipe to make with kids. There are so many tasks they can help you with from:
- Grating the cheeses to
- Tearing kale from its stalks into little pieces to
- Checking the pasta for “doneness”–is it “al dente?!” to
- Helping stir the butter and flour into a roux (which will thicken the milk) and letting you know when it starts to smell like cookie dough so you can pour that milk in and stir, stir, stir!
The most exciting part is when the cheese they grated gets mixed into the creamy bechamel sauce with the noodles and veggies, and it goes into its baking vessel. You get wafts of nutmeg smells as it slides out of the hot pasta pot and into the oven with its crunchy breadcrumb topping.
And as your kids dig their forks into this ooey gooey pasta masterpiece, you’ll relish knowing that the kale (and maybe a little broccoli) that you stuffed into this classic is pumping their brains with antioxidants, their muscles with calcium and vitamin k, and their bodies with fiber to keep them full and happy. Go ahead and crown yourself a kale hero. I surely will.
Don’t miss all of the fun that will be happening across the country on National Kale Day, October 7th, 2015. We will be serving students of Lu Sutton Elementary the Ginger Kale Salad by Wellness in the Schools that they learned the week before in our cooking labs. What kind of kale adventures do you have in store? Here’s to the kale hero in each of us!
- elbow macaroni, 1 lb (can also use GF brand)
- salt, 1 tsp
- vegetable broth, 1 quart
- all purpose flour, 1/4 cup (can also use GF flour)
- kale, 1 bunch
- olive oil, 4 TBS
- butter, 4 TBS
- milk (2% or full), 3 cups
- nutmeg (ground), 1 tsp
- emmental (type of swiss cheese), 1/2 lb
- white cheddar cheese (not sharp), grated, 1/2 lb
- bread crumbs, 1 cup (can also use GF breadcrumbs)
- Take 5 minutes to get out all your ingredients, measuring and cooking equipment needed, and place them on a cookie sheet within easy reach.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Grate cheeses.
- Thinly slice the greens.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. **Note, the pasta boxes always recommend you put way more water than is needed to cook these noodles. Just make sure you’ve put enough water to cover them completely! You don’t need a special pot.
- Add macaroni to boiling water and cook until al dente (a little chewy to the tooth). The pasta will keep cooking when we bake the mac n cheese in the oven!
- Remove ¼ cup of the water they cooked in before you drain the noodles. Place the cooking water into a bowl.
- Drain the noodles and then add them to the bowl where you put the ¼ cup cooking liquid. This should keep them from sticking together until you are ready to add them to the final mac and cheese.
- Sauté greens + add cooked noodles
- Use the same pot you cooked your noodles to sauté the greens in 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt for 2-3 minutes.
- Add ¼ cup vegetable broth and cook another 2-3 minutes. Cook until slightly crisp.
- Add your cooked noodles and about ¼ cup of the reserved pasta liquid to the pot with the cooked greens.
- In a separate medium pot, melt 4 tablespoons butter on med/high heat and add ¼ cup flour, whisking until the mixture is like sand and a golden color.
- Add 3 cups of milk and 1 cup of vegetable broth.
- Stay on medium-high heat, continuously stirring with a whisk until thickened—approximately 10 minutes.
- Add nutmeg and 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper.
- Turn off the heat; add your grated cheeses and stir until melted.
- Add your cooked vegetables and noodles to this pot and combine.
- Place in an ovenproof dish, top with breadcrumbs with a drizzle of olive oil and bake at 350 for 35 minutes.
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