Cheesy Pasta with Beans and Veggies

Cheesy Pasta with Beans and Veggies

Or as it is known in our house, “Almost Mac and Cheese.” It’s very similar to traditional mac and cheese, but I make my sauce lighter by using veggie (or chicken) broth and by using just enough to cheese to be able to taste it but not overwhelm. This meal is kid-approved by Paxton, who claimed he was going to eat all of the leftovers.

I’ve been doing a lot of big batch cooking this week – large pots of rice, quinoa, and beans. These are all super versatile ingredients that can be used in any number of recipes. I soaked and cooked 1 pound of dried butter beans, which made it into 3 meals, including this one. Feel free to substitute with 1 – 2 cans of canned white beans (depending on how bean-y you want your pasta to be).

If you don’t want beans, use the same amount of cooked chicken. Or use whatever you normally like in mac and cheese – bacon, cut up hot dogs, lobster … Just make sure to cook it first and stir it into the pasta at the end.

Onto the recipe!

Start with 1 pound of pasta. Use any kind of pasta you want. I prefer shells, fusilli, macaroni, penne, or other smallish pasta that holds onto the sauce. While waiting for the well-salted water to boil, I thinly sliced the last 4 medium-sized carrots I had in the refrigerator and pulled out half a bag (about half a pound) of frozen peas. Use any fresh or frozen veggies you have on hand. My plan was to use an entire bag of mixed frozen veggies, but I was all out!

Cook the pasta to al dente according to the directions on the box. Reserve at least 1 cup of pasta water. If you don’t want to use veggie or chicken broth, reserve a total of 3 cups of pasta water. I dropped the carrots in with the pasta about 4 minutes before it was done and the frozen peas in right before draining.

While the pasta is cooking, melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large pan over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add 4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour. Cook until the mixture starts to turn golden brown. Keep stirring so the flour and butter don’t burn.

Stir in about 1 tablespoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of turmeric, 1 teaspoon of dried thyme, an option big pinch of chili flakes, and 4 – 5 minced garlic cloves (or 6 or 7, but who’s counting?). Next, add 2 cups of veggie or chicken broth or reserved pasta water and stir in 1 cup of shredded cheese. I used mild cheddar, but use whatever melty cheese you have on hand.

Stir in the pasta and veggies and add about 2 – 3 cups of cooked white beans or 1 – 2 cans of rinsed white beans. Add the reserved pasta water a little at a time to achieve your desired sauce consistency. I used about half a cup. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Let the pasta, beans, and veggies cook in the sauce for another minute or two. Then scoop into bowls and eat up. Enjoy!

Did you try this recipe? Did you make some tweaks? Do you have a question? Just want to say hi? Please leave a comment!