While most mac n’ cheese isn’t overly nutritious, this version is packed with protein, veggies, and whole wheat, so I can feel good about giving it to Miss G. Plus, despite requiring a couple of pots and a immersion blender/blender/food processor of some kind, it makes for a fairly quick and easy hot lunch. Gracen loves it and it pretty much covers the food groups in one dish, so it’s fairly regular in our lunch rotation around here.
The recipe is less of an actual recipe and more of a guide as there are so many possibilities, but here’s how I normally make it…
Veggie Lentil Pasta & Cheese
- 1/2 package of the wholewheat pasta of your choice
- 1 medium carrots, washed and chopped
- 1 small piece of squash
- 1 small chunk of cauliflower
- 1/2 cup of dry red lentils
- 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of basil
- dash of cayenne pepper (this doesn’t make the dish spicy…just adds a little depth to the flavour)
- sea salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
- 1 cup of sharp cheddar, grated
Put two pots of water on the stove to boil, one smaller one and one bigger one.
While waiting for the water to boil, wash and chop the vegetables (the combination is really up to you…you can use all 3 veggies, a combination of just 2, or just one kind of veggie – we just use what we have in the fridge at the time).
When the water in the smaller pot comes to a bowl, add your veggies and lentils and cook at a gentle boil.
Add the pasta to the larger pot once the water is boiling and cook according to the package’s instructions.
When the lentils and veggies are very soft and mash easily with a fork, drain them while reserving a few tablespoons of the cooking water. Pop the lentils and veggies into your blender or food processor along with your herbs and spices and puree until completely smooth.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it well and return it to the pot along with the lentil/veggie puree (you don’t have to use all of it if you don’t want to – basically what replaces the usual butter and milk combination). Add cheese and stir over medium heat in order to melt everything and create a thick, creamy sauce (adding cooking water to thin it out a bit if needed).
Serve and watch your munchkins gobble it up. (If you’re a parent that needs to be a bit creative about the way you feed your child(ren) veggies, this is the perfect dish.)