On Wednesday, I had a hard time getting off the couch to make this zucchini mac and cheese. But again there was nothing for dinner and I knew this 15 minute dinner had a big chance of being a winner. I love my job but at times I envy office workers typing 8 hours away on the computer. I cherish a few hours a day I get to work on laptop while sipping tea. Majority of my day is spent on feet – getting kids out the door, cooking, cleaning, driving kids to sports, running to grocery stores, feeding and putting kids to bed. And I know office people envy me back. When I get to my bed after taking shower the feeling of a horizontal position is almost orgasmic.
I am really looking forward to slowing down this summer. I need to. School is almost over and I decided to spend a meaningful summer with my children. I will be working but not as much. I need no schedule and no pressure to be anywhere life. Just for a bit. I really want to enjoy these few months of sunshine with kids before oldest one starts to hang out with his friends and youngest one stops thinking I am the belly button of the universe. Beach days, cold watermelon, trips to the library, lazy mornings. My summer bucket list is long. Just like everybody else’s. We all try to squeeze in a year worth of activities into 2 months. Except lucky California and Florida folks.
I had this idea to mix finely grated zucchini with mac and cheese. I knew right away it either will be a big YAY or a sour face NAY. Deep down I knew chances of big YAY were quite high because it is mac and cheese. Hello?! I often make Annie’s for kids’ hot lunches. We do not eat deli meat and peanut butter at school is a problem. So, barely any sandwiches.
In Ukraine, we sprinkled shredded cheese on warm short egg noodles (the only kind of pasta we had). Pasta would become cheesy and that was our version of mac and cheese. My mom was a single mom so we never bought cheese except for special occasions. Bread, potatoes and eggs were necessities. My cousin would share sometimes his cheese. All groceries, cooking and budgets were done separately – my aunt and her family and then us and grandma. The only cost we split was the utilities. Sometimes I think of what we had and it blows my mind…More of what we didn’t have. That experience instilled in me everything I am today – budgeting, frugality and appreciation for simple things. As much as it is nice to be a kid I would never wanna go back to my childhood. Poverty and divorce suck… literally suck all joy of being a kid and you dream of growing up every single minute. So you can change your world. Children are so powerless.
Just like zucchini swimming in a cheesy sauce. No way boring plain zucchini will survive the creaminess and cheesiness. When the usual question “What’s for dinner?” rang in my ears around 2:30 PM (some days I hear it at breakfast) I announced “Mac and cheese”. As confidently as I could. Then gave a spoonful to try. Yep, big YAY. Zucchini are pretty tasteless so hiding them in mac and cheese should fly by. You know what didn’t fly by in my house though? Avocado mac and cheese. That I was told not to make ever again and I kinda see why.
Zucchinis are mostly water so when you let them cook covered for 10 minutes the juices start flowing into the sauce while adding flavour. Making the most tender zucchini mac and cheese ever. And isn’t it pretty?! Although my 5 year old had his concerns that it is not “normal” macaroni and cheese aka not Annie’s. But since I do not cook separate meals he backed out after a first spoonful. I really liked zucchini in mac n cheese to add a vegetable boost and keep cheese to a minimum without sacrificing the flavour.
Have you ever made zucchini mac and cheese? Do your kids like zucchini?
- 1 lb zucchini (2 cups packed), shredded & not squeezed
- 4 oz (1 cup packed) cheddar or marble cheese, shredded
- 2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked (I used brown rice)
- 3 tbsp butter, salted
- 3 tbsp whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp milk of choice (I used almond milk)
- 3/4 tsp himalayan pink salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- Cook pasta as per package instructions undercooking by a few minutes. You want pasta firm. I used brown rice pasta which cooks super fast. Drain and set aside.
- In the meanwhile, preheat dutch oven or a skillet on medium heat and melt butter. Add flour slowly while whisking continuously. Add milk while whisking. Bring to a boil until a bit thickened and bubbly.
- Add zucchini, stir well, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add salt and garlic powder and stir.
- Add cheese and stir until it is melted. Add cooked pasta and mix well. Turn off heat. Adjust thickness with extra milk if necessary and salt to taste. Mac and cheese thickens a bit with time.
Servings Per Recipe: 6
Amount Per Serving = 1 cup:
Total Fat: 13.9 g
Cholesterol: 35.5 mg
Sodium: 508.9 mg
Total Carbs: 35.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.1 g
Protein: 7.9 g
WW Points+: 8