Macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food, but I often struggle to eat vegetables on the side when faced with a heaping helping of cheesy goodness. To help counteract this disturbing occurrence, I often bake vegetables into my casserole in hopes that I'll be comforted AND hit my daily vegetable intake. In the past, I've used peas, corn, assorted frozen vegetables, butternut squash, but this time I had on hand a couple of small yellow bell peppers, a container of baby spinach, and a large tomato that needed to be used.
I also used brown rice pasta in lieu of traditional macaroni, as I really like its subtle nutty flavor, but you could use whatever macaroni you see fit. I won't come along and second guess you.
Vegetable Macaroni with Four Cheeses
1 1/2 cups brown rice pasta
1 3/4 cups skim milk, divided
4 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
1/2 cup cubed brie (rind removed)
1 cup freshly grated reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup freshly grated white cheddar
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
Fresh ground black pepper
2 yellow bell peppers, diced and steamed
2 cups baby spinach, shredded
1 large tomato, cut into slices
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil a pot of salted water, add brown rice pasta, and cook for 13-14 minutes, or a few minutes less than package directions. Drain pasta and set aside
2. Heat 1 1/2 cups skim milk over medium heat, until steaming. Mix remaining milk and flour in a small bowl or cup, and then drizzle the slurry into the steamed milk. Add dijon mustard and brie to milk mixture. Whisk and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from heat and add sharp and white cheddar, stirring until melted.
3. Add steamed bell pepper and spinach to melted cheese mixture, dump macaroni in pot and toss to coat. Pour macaroni mixture into a baking dish coated with cooking spray, sprinkle Parmesan on top, and cover with slices of tomato. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until bubbling and tomatoes are soft.