This post was sponsored by Gloria Ferrer.
It snowed today.
Not a lot, but enough to remind everyone that winter is right around the corner.
All I want to do on days like that is to cozy up with a bowl of comfort food. Luckily, I had a big tray of this winter vegetable macaroni and cheese in the fridge. The leftovers were perfect for lunch!
I pulled out all the stops to lighten up this macaroni and cheese without sacrificing flavor – it’s about as guilt-free as it comes!
I started by swapping half the pasta for cauliflower florets. You’ll hardly even notice they’re there, but they help reduce the amount of carbs and add nutrition to this recipe.
I also made the sauce with significantly less cream than traditional recipes. The sauce is still as rich and creamy as you’d hope for, but chicken stock also adds extra flavor.
This casserole recipe was inspired by one of our all-time favorite appetizers: goat cheese stuffed peppadew peppers.
The combination of creamy goat cheese, tangy peppers, crunchy bread crumbs, and sweet balsamic is seriously yummy.
Based on the number of people who have told me they love the original recipe, it seems that a lot of people agree!
I also added roasted Brussels sprouts to this mac – this time of year I’m notorious for sneaking them into everything. You can roast them ahead of time or stick them in the oven while the pasta boils.
I really like serving sparkling wine with rich meals like this one.
I always keep a few bottles in my cabinet, and I find myself reaching for them more and more often. The bubbles help cleanse your palate, plus it makes even the most boring weeknight feel a little more special.
- ½ pound medium shell shaped pasta
- 1 ½ cups small Brussels sprouts halved (quartered if large)
- 1 fennel bulb sliced
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 cups frozen cauliflower florets
- 1 cup peppadew peppers
- 6 ounces goat cheese crumbled
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- balsamic reduction
- Heat oven to 400ºF.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, until it's al dente. Drain.
- Meanwhile, toss the Brussels sprouts and fennel in olive oil and spread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake 10 minutes, turning once, or until they begin to brown.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan set over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the cream and broth. Bring to a simmer and let cook 5-7 minutes, or until thick and creamy.
- Combine the cooked pasta with sauce, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, fennel, and goat cheese. Spread in an 8-inch square baking pan. Top with breadcrumbs and bake for 10 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown.
- Drizzle with balsamic reduction just before serving.