Macaroni and cheese is one of those ultimate comfort foods, but as with many comfort foods, it doesn't have much to say for itself from a nutritional point of view. There's calcium in the cheese, I guess? This version still is far from a health food with lots of cheese, noodles, and bread crumbs. But, it does feature a great mix of fresh, roasted veggies: green peppers, onions, corn, and patty pan squash. These could easily be switched around for anything you have on hand that's good when roasted - zucchini, carrots, asparagus, butternut squash, and green beans come to mind! Because there are a lot of vegetables here, you're best off to roast them on two separate sheets if you have the space in your oven. I did them all on one, and some of them steamed rather than getting all brown and caramelized. But - they were still totally delicious when stirred into an awesome mac-and-cheese based and then baked. I'll be making this dish throughout the year with whatever vegetables are in season.
Mac and Cheese with Roasted Summer Vegetables (adapted from How Sweet It Is, original recipe here)
2 ears fresh corn (husked and corn cut from the ears)
2 green bell peppers, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
3 patty pan squash, chopped
A good glug of vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
12 ounces shell noodles
2 T unsalted butter
2 T flour
2-1/2 cups milk (preferably 2% or whole)
8 ounces Havarti cheese, grated
8 ounces white cheddar cheese, grated
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
1 garlic clove, minced
Heaping 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray, and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
2. In a large bowl, toss together the corn, peppers, onions, and squash. Add enough oil to coat, and season generously with salt and pepper. Spread in an even layer on the baking sheet, and roast for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables are softened and starting to brown.
3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt, and cook the pasta for 2 minutes less than called for on the package directions.
4. Make the cheese sauce. Heat the butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. When it sizzles, add the flour and whisk to create a roux (note - if using a non-stick skillet, make sure to use a silicone-coated whisk). When the roux is golden and bubbly, slowly whisk in the milk. Whisk until the mixture slightly thickens. Slowly whisk in 6 ounces of the Havarti, 6 ounces of the cheddar, and all the Parmesan. Whisk in the garlic as well. When the cheese has completely melted, taste, and season with salt and pepper if needed (keep in mind that the veggies and pasta are also seasoned, so don't overdo it).
5. In a large bowl or pot, fold together the pasta, cheese sauce, and roasted vegetables. Scrape into the baking dish.
6. Sprinkle the pasta with the remaining Havarti and cheddar. Then sprinkle with the panko.
7. Bake 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden and the cheese is bubbling.