Our family tried out this recipe from Organic Baby and Toddler Cookbook by Lizzie Vann, and it was a hit. Originally I’d anticipated having my 2-year-old help out with the cooking, but because of all the stove-top cooking required, outside of chopping and sprinkling cheeses, this recipe doesn’t lend itself to a lot of toddler assistance. Despite his lack of involvement, my son still enjoyed this healthier twist on mac and cheese with hidden veggies, and so did we!
1 1/4 cup milk
1 bay leaf
1 cup small macaroni or pasta shapes
2 tbs butter (*we used less)
1/4 cup cornstarch or plain flour
1/3 cup hard cheese such as cheddar, grated
1 small onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup button mushrooms, finely chopped (*we used more and they stay hidden well!)
1/3 cup frozen peas (*can also take more of these… can always use more veggies!)
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp finely chopped fresh herbs such as basil, sage, or chives
Preheat oven to 400F
Heat the milk in a pan with the bay leaf. Bring to simmering point, then remove from the heat, and set aside to cool.
Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package and drain well.
In a separate pan, gently heat the butter. Add the flour and stir, using a wooden spoon or hand whisk, until well combined and smooth. Remove the bay leaf from the milk, then gradually add the milk to the pan, stirring continuously.
Stir the sauce over a medium heat until it begins to thicken. Simmer for 3 minutes, then stir in half the cheese, all the macaroni, and the onion, mushrooms, peas, garlic, and herbs.
Spoon into an ovenproof dish, sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, and bake for 20 minutes, until the top is bubbling and golden.
Makes: 4 child-sized servings (*we doubled the recipe and it was more than enough for our family of three to have dinner for two nights)
Preparation: 20 minutes + 20 minutes cooking time
Nutritional Value: Good source of calcium and vitamin C
My husband and I added a little salt and pepper to our servings, and we completed the dinner with sweet potato sticks. This will definitely be a recipe we use again, and it’s going into my son’s lunch tomorrow!