Deliciously creamy stovetop mac and cheese with vibrant green broccoli and spinach to boost your veggie intake and indulge in a classic comfort recipe. Make this easy macaroni and cheese on your stove top in under 45 minutes. Creamy and simple to make, it’s a great way to incorporate a few more veggies into your diet.
Making Broccoli Mac and Cheese on the Stovetop
Macaroni and cheese is one of my go to quick recipes. It’s so easy to make and you can dress it up to be a better and more fulfilling meal.
Technically you can make this dish in one pot, if you’re willing to wait for each component to cook: the noodles, broccoli, and sauce. For a quicker result I suggest using two to three pots.
Mac and Cheese with Cornstarch
There are different ways to thicken a sauce and in this recipe, we’re thickening our cheese sauce with a corn starch slurry (a mixture of corn starch and pasta water). The pasta water itself has some starch from the boiled pasta, but if you forgot to store some pasta water, normal water will be just fine.
How does corn starch thicken a sauce? Well actually, starches absorb water and expand. You may have noticed this effect when cooking rice or oatmeal. In this case, the cornstarch will absorb water and expand, therefore thickening the sauce.
It’s super important that you mix the cornstarch with water before stirring it into the sauce otherwise the starch will just clump up and that’s not pretty or tasty.
If you don’t have corn starch you can also use potato starch or more pasta water.
Can I Make Macaroni and Cheese Without Milk.
Absolutely! You can replace the milk in this recipe for any nut milk substitute. I’ve personally used almond milk to replace whole milk.
You could also use heavy creamy instead of milk. In this case, skip the corn starch because the heavy cream thickens when heated.
Getting a Super Creamy and Flavorful Cheese Sauce
I like having the different textures in my mac, so I usually add veggies like diced carrots, onions, and sweet peppers to my recipes. If you would prefer a creamier experience, I suggest blending the veggies with the chicken broth before adding the cheese.
Let’s waste less food.
Have you been avoiding the stems because recipes only call for broccoli florets? Well it’s time to stop that, because you’re missing out on a crazy delicious part of the whole broccoli head. The stem! When cooked it’s texture is nice and crisp! It’s such a satisfying part of the broccoli.
All you have to do is trim off the tough bark parts that get dried up in stores and slice it into coins. Then cook like you would florets. You can roast, steam, or add them to soups.
If you don’t have an immediate use for spinach, you can easily freeze leftovers in and airtight container and break off chunks for smoothies, vegetable sautés, or omelets. It’s a quick and easy way to add more veggies into a meal.
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Mac and Cheese with Broccoli and Spinach
- 16 oz elbow pasta ($1.29)
- 2 broccoli heads ($0.99)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil ($0.15)
- 1/2 large yellow onion, diced ($0.40)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt ($0.02)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced ($0.30)
- 2 cups of water ($0.00)
- 1 bouillon cube ($0.09)
- 1 cup milk ($0.37)
- 6 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese ($4.58)
- 1 tablespoon dark chili powder ($0.09)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch ($0.03)
- 1 tablespoon pasta water ($0.00)
- 2 cups spinach ($0.89)
- Fill a large pot with water and season with salt to taste like the ocean. Set to a boil and add 16 oz of elbow pasta. Cook al dente for, about 7-8 minutes. Strain and rinse with cold water and set aside.
- Cut florets off of the broccoli and peel the touch layer of the stem. Dice the stem into bite sized chunks. In a salted pot of water boil broccoli for 3-5 minutes until its a vibrant green. Strain and run under cold water.
- Heat a medium sauce pot to medium. Add olive oil and wait until it’s hot to add diced onions, you’ll hear it sizzle. Add salt and sauté until onions are translucent. Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant.
- Add room temperature water, bouillon cube, and milk.*
- Bring up to a simmer and stir in cheese and chili powder. Stir until cheese in melted through. If the cheese is very thin add the cornstarch slurry (mixture of water and cornstarch).
- In the large pot combine pasta, broccoli, spinach, and cheese sauce.The residual heat from the cheese sauce will cook the spinach.