There are a lots of instant Mac and cheese packets available out there and they probably save a lot of time; when you have to think and serve lunch/dinner to your little ones in an instant. However, these packets also have a lot of additives and may be okay to serve once in a long long while, but for those in between ‘ready in few minutes-but healthy option’ moments, try making this baked pasta with vegetables at home. It’s healthy, has the veges, cheese and the pasta, and is 100 percent kid-friendly. Involve your little ones in mixing and putting the cheese on and they will feel very accomplished; as you will too, when you see their faces grin ear-to-ear when they eat this!
You will need:
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2.5 cups milk
1 tsp salt or to taste
few grindings of pepper
few gratings of nutmeg (optional)
1-1/2 cup mixed vegetables; blanched (I used diced green beans, peas, sliced carrots and broccoli florets cut into small florets)
1 cup or so cooked pasta of your choice (Leftover pasta works great here)
1 cup plus 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese or more if you like
Pre-heat the oven at 375 degrees.
Heat butter in a small pot until just melted. Add the flour and stir for 2-3 minutes. Don’t let the flour turn brown, so keep stirring. Drizzle in the milk and keep stirring until a smooth sauce forms; 3-4 minutes. Add 1/2 cup cheese, nutmeg if using, salt and pepper and stir to mix. Add a little more milk if the sauce gets too thick. Add the cooked pasta and the blanched vegetables and mix to combine.
Transfer the mixture in a small oven-proof pan and top with 1 cup or more of the grated cheese. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes and serve with some ketchup on the side; or cut into squares and pack in your child’s thermos for some gooey and comforting lunch.