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Hidden Veggie Mac and Cheese

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The hidden vegetable trend-What do you think of it? My opinion has always been- I’m all for it!  And not for the intention of “tricking the kids” but rather increasing the nutrients of our meals.  Plus, if you get the added bonus of less complaints, why not?!  We still try to add a side of veggies so the kids are used to seeing veggies on their plates at every meal, but if we can include them in the main dish, I totally think we should.  

Our garden became taken over by some wild and massive summer squash recently.  The only thing I really wanted to do was cook it down and puree it for “increasing the nutrients in our meals”, AKA hiding some veggies!  We love summer squash, sauteed or broiled with a bit of olive oil and Parmesan cheese, but when they grow jumbo size, dry out, and get those horrible huge seeds, roasting and sauteing just isn’t as tasty. 

After our summer squash gets preserved as frozen puree, we take it out to add to things like Macaroni and Cheese! 

Step 1- Prepare the Squash

So, here are the basic steps I went through this weekend to do this:

 1) Get some summer squash- grow them or buy them!  2) Peel and chop.  I left the seeds in for the smaller squash, but the big ones, with the HUGE seeds, I scooped them out.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t!
 3) Boil all chopped squash for about 20 minutes  4) Once boiled, drain the water- there will be enough water in the squash to puree smoothly.
 5) PUREE in a high powered blender.  I tried this with a hand mixer, but it just doesn’t get as smooth.  The blender got every single chunk, so it was completely smooth.  6) Disperse into two cup portions in quart size freezer bags.  Lay flat first on a baking sheet, then you can stand them up for storage.

Step 2- Make Your Macaroni Cheese Sauce

Once you have packages of frozen squash puree, defrost one at a time to include in your Macaroni and Cheese.  For this recipe we followed these steps:

 1) Make your roux- 1 Tablespoon of butter, with 1 Tablespoon of flour (full recipe below)  2) Once thickened, add 1/2 cup milk, and stir till thickened again.  Then add 1/2 cup of your summer squash puree and 1 Tablespoon of cream cheese.
 3) Cook noodles according to package directions and drain. Add the noodles to your squash sauce and top with shredded cheese.  4) ENJOY!!

Serve with slow roasted tomatoes!

Oh man, don’t you love these!!  We put some cherry tomatoes on a cookie sheet.  Drizzled with olive oil, and baked at 250 for about 3 hours! YUMMY!

 That’s it!!  What other dishes would you add summer squash puree to?

Need more Macaroni and Cheese recipes?  We’ve also got:

 

Hidden Veggie Mac and Cheese

  • 1 1/2 cups elbow noodles
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup summer squash puree
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Top with shredded cheddar cheese (1/4-1/2 cup)

Cook elbow noodles according to package directions and drain.

In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter.  Add 1 tablespoon of flour and mix until thick and bubbly (but not burned!).  Add 1/2 cup of milk and stir till it begins to bubble again.  Add 1/2 cup summer squash puree, and stir till fully smooth and mixed in.  Add cream cheese and mix until smooth.  Add salt.  

Add the cooked macaroni to your thickened cheese sauce.  Top with shredded cheddar or our favorite, Colby Jack!  

(based on Deceptively Delicious Macaroni and Cheese 1)


28 Comments

jamie

I’ve been doing this same thing for years! My kids even know it’s in there and don’t care. It’s amazing that they’ll probably eat half a squash in their serving size and there’s no whining or complaining

Reply
Katie Walker

I made this to go along with xmas dinner and LOVED it! I will never eat macaroni from a box again. However, now I am very curious as to what other recipes you use for the rest of the puree.

Reply

Hi Katie- we add it to anything from soups to baked goods. Or if you have babies, just serve it up as baby food.

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Mickey

I have like 15 new pins today because I just found your site! They all look amazing, can’t wait to try them!

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Laurie Kokochak

Hi Amy, Just wondering if you could post the nutrition facts for the mac and cheese.. it sounds so very good but would still like the nutrition info.. Thanks :)

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Rhonda

Can I ask…what nutrients survive in the veg once it has been cooked and then cooked again in the meal? Is it really worth it?

Reply

Two reasons it’s worth it Rhonda! One, is while some of the nutrients are lost, not all of them are. And second, feeding kids is about exposing them to tastes, textures, and flavors of real food. When babies begin to learn to eat, they aren’t getting many nutrients from the tiny amounts of food we give them, but we are teaching them to eat. When we are teaching kids to be accepting of a variety of fruits and vegetables, we serve them in a variety of ways and forms to get them to like the taste of real food.

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Krystale

Love your site!! I have so many great ideas now. Just wondering what other names summer squash may go by at the supermarket? I can’t find this type of squash. I’m also thinking it may not be available here. I’ve also seen recipes where puréed cauliflower has been used in the Mac n cheese. Have you heard of or tried it? Thanks for everything you do for us. I have a 2 yr old and it’s been amazing feeding him.

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Ashley

My son absolutely LOVES this. We have made it with all sorts of squash. We used yellow squash in the summer but now we use butternut or buttercup squash in the winter. We love the taste plus it makes it really orange so it looks super cheesy.

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Anne

The veggies also provide fiber, which promotes healthy digestion! Any produce addition is a healthy fiber boost. Thanks for your recipes! I’m loving your site!

Reply
Marisa

I made a tuna noodle casserole this weekend and added a pureed sweet potato to the sauce. My kids love the orange color and had no idea it was in there! Love the squash idea too.

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Marisa

I made a tuna noodle casserole this weekend and added a pureed sweet potato to the sauce. My kids love the orange color and had no idea it was in there! Love the squash idea too.

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Bobbi

How is the texture when it’s reheated? I like to pack thermos lunches for my kiddos whenever I get the opportunity & it’s cool out. Can’t wait to try this out tonight!

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Nicole

Just wanted you to know, we tried this tonight and it was super easy and super fast. My son is a picky eater so i told him mac and cheese and he gobbled it right up! I doubled the recipe and it turned out amazing.

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