Thursday, May 17, 2012

Broccoli-Basil Macaroni and Cheese

*My Baked Explorations Cookbook Giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. Friday night! Just tell me about your favorite cookbook for a chance to win!*

I tried to help my friend's three year old daughter wash her hands in the bathroom at the coffee shop last weekend.

I am clearly not a mother.

I struggled to hold her up with one hand and then turn the faucet on. I wasn't certain how hot to make the water (though she couldn't have cared at all that the water was lukewarm).

When trying to squeeze soap into her hand, I knocked the pump off of the bottle not just once, but twice.

And I dropped a whole bunch of paper towels into the sink.

She just laughed. She thought it was hilarious.

I realized I have a lot to learn about being a mother.

That's why I decided I needed to do some research before I brought new parents a meal. The advice I read in blogs made sense. It needs to be a meal that's easy to prepare, that doesn't require a lot of extra add-ins that you're not sending along. It needs to be something that keeps for a while (frozen is great), so if they can't get around to it that day, it's fine. And it needs to be something that's easy enough to eat one handed.

Broccoli-basil macaroni and cheese it was. I loaded it with whole wheat pasta, two kinds of cheese, and a ton of different veggies, including half a head of broccoli on top.

I made one for the new parents.

And I made one for myself. :)

I figured if I was going to all the trouble, I might as well have one to enjoy. And I wanted to make sure it tasted alright before I delivered it.

It did. And one batch was enough for about 8 servings, with sides. Always a bonus.

Broccoli-Basil Macaroni and Cheese
recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes (seeds removed)
1 bunch basil leaves, removed from the stems
2 slices whole-wheat bread, stale
1/2 head of broccoli, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons sour cream
4 ounces white cheddar cheese, grated
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
1 package cherry tomatoes
3 cups dried macaroni elbows

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil.

Place the chopped butternut squash on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring the squash once, until it is golden brown.

While the squash cooks, combine half the basil, all the bread, all the broccoli, and a few tablespoons of olive oil in the food processor until the mixture forms a fine crumb.  Remove the mixture from the food processor, transfer to a small bowl, and wipe out the food processor so it is clean.

In a small bowl, combine the sour cream with the grated cheeses. Set aside.

In the food processor, combine the cherry tomatoes with the remaining 1/2 bunch basil. Pulse the mixture a few times. Mix the cherry tomatoes and basil with the sour cream/cheese mixture.

Boil the pasta about 1 minute less than the suggested time on the pasta box. Drain, reserving at least 1 cup of pasta water for later.

Return the pasta to the hot pan. Add the cheese mixture to it, and stir well. Add the squash, and continue stirring. As needed, add pasta water to thin the sauce to the consistency of cream. It's alright if it's a bit runny.

Transfer the pasta to a large baking dish. Sprinkle the green breadcrumbs evenly and generously over the top of the pasta. Overflow the dish with the bread crumbs. You'll be glad to have them.

Bake the dish for 20 to 25 minutes, until the topping is crunchy. Remove the pasta from the oven, and allow it to sit for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Note: If you are baking the dish from frozen, increase the baking time by 20 to 25 minutes.


  1. broccoli and cheese was one of my favorite dishes growing up, except our was steamed broccoli smothered in velveeta. yes, velveeta. LOVE this take on it, Katie!

    1. Thanks Candice! I love these new takes on old favorites!

  2. This looks like the ultimate comfort food! Cheesy and crunchy....


    1. By the end of a long day, I'm always in the mood for comforting food! Yum!

  3. My "new" favorite cookbook is Sunday Suppers at Lucques....

    it's awesome!

    1. Yum! I'm so excited to explore all these new cookbooks.