Broccoli and Bacon Mac & Cheese

by Shawnda on October 17, 2012

in Lighter & Healthier,Pasta, Rice, and Grains

Broccoli and Bacon Macaroni & Cheese

Plenty of people are passionate about food – good food – and perhaps none more so than the people out there who read and comment on food blogs. And that’s where we got dinner tonight.

On the post about National Pasta Month, reader Anna mentioned her friend’s “desperation” macaroni & cheese. Broccoli & bacon + macaroni & cheese. It may have been created in a moment of desperation, but there is nothing second-rate about it.

Broccoli and Bacon Macaroni & Cheese

I modified our favorite stovetop macaroni and cheese recipe to use what we had in the cheese & veggie bins: fontina, cheddar, bacon, and 1 1/2 crowns of the saddest looking broccoli you’ve ever seen. If you’re unfamiliar with the original recipe, it uses fat-free, high-protein Greek yogurt in the cheese sauce. The yogurt and fontina help the cheddar melt into a smoother sauce. If you can’t get fontina, try white American cheese – just using more cheddar and other less melt-friendly cheeses won’t be very pretty.

You can feel good about yourself for adding broccoli. And just feel good about the bacon :)

Broccoli and Bacon Macaroni & Cheese

Broccoli and bacon make macaroni and cheese a one-dish dinner.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz penne pasta
  • 4 thick slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 crowns of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (I use fat-free Greek)
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • 4 oz fontina, shredded
  • 4 oz cheddar, shredded
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

  1. In a medium saute pan, cook the bacon to a crisp and then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
  2. Cook macaroni pasta in salted water according to package directions, until al dente.
  3. Reserve 1 cup pasta water before draining the pasta.
  4. Drain the pasta water into a second pot and return the pot to the stovetop.
  5. Add the broccoli to the hot water and cook over medium-high for 3-4 minutes, until just fork tender and then drain. (Alternately, you can just use the second pot and cook the broccoli at the same time.)
  6. While the broccoli is cooking, transfer the pasta to a large bowl.
  7. Add 1/4 cup pasta water, the yogurt, a few dashes of hot sauce, and 1/3 of the grated cheese and stir until the cheese has melted.
  8. Stir in remaining cheese, one small handful at a time to prevent clumping.
  9. Add additional pasta water as necessary to thin the cheese sauce.
  10. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Add the broccoli and bacon, mix well, and serve.

Notes

Yields: 4 generous servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 20 minutes

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sarah October 17, 2012 at 2:28 am

That looks great!
Interesting to read how you make you cheese sauce. Is it “healthier” than the milk/flour version?

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2 foodiebride October 17, 2012 at 8:17 am

I guess it depends on how you look at it, there’s probably a good argument for both varieties. I use Fage 0% because 1) I like the taste of it and 2) it’s loaded with protein, far more than any other plain or Greek-style yogurt. That’s really the selling point of that yogurt for me for me. Another reader has told me that she used light sour cream in the original version and her kids liked it more than the yogurt variety.

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3 Jocelyn @BruCrew Life October 17, 2012 at 4:55 am

That is a great idea to use yogurt for the cheese sauce…I can’t wait to try that out!!! We usually always have some sad looking broccoli in our fridge that needs used. This really does look great:-)

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4 Heather October 17, 2012 at 9:03 am

This looks fantastic! I have never heard of using Greek yogurt in the sauce but I can’t wait to try this!

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5 Jessica October 17, 2012 at 10:57 am

This looks amazing! I cannot wait to make this. *adding broccoli and yogurt to shopping list*

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6 Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious October 17, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Amazing! What a healthy, fun twist on traditional mac and cheese!

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7 Angela October 17, 2012 at 1:57 pm

All of my favorites in one dish! Mouth watering!!

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8 Christina @ Diary of a Teenage Baker October 17, 2012 at 2:53 pm

anything with bacon – sign me up!

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9 Loretta | A Finn In The Kitchen October 17, 2012 at 3:38 pm

It looks so rich and creamy! What a great combination. It would also be good with a few sun-dried tomatoes. I love them in dishes like this.

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10 amanda @ fake ginger October 17, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Mmm, I’m so into broccoli right now so this is perfect. I wish I had it for dinner tonight!

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11 Patti T. October 17, 2012 at 7:06 pm

I sing the praises of fat free Greek yogurt all the time, can’t believe I didn’t think of this. The recipe sounds fantastic and something my whole family would enjoy. Thanks for a great idea.

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12 Joanne October 17, 2012 at 8:50 pm

I’ve been meaning to make your mac and cheese for ages! I love all the veggies you threw in here…but DESPERATE it is not. :)

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13 Donna Jahn October 18, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Can you get me the calories per serving and the protein as well?

Thanks,
Donna J
TN

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14 Jenn October 18, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Mmm, leftover broccoli in the fridge right now, I think this might have to be my recipe of choice for dinner tomorrow! Looks delish! PS – LOVE the idea of using yogurt instead of a buttery bechamel sauce! Now if only foodgawker would accept some of MY pics! LOL

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15 Diane October 18, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Oh my, that looks devine, I can almost taste – can not wait to make this. Thank you, thank you.

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16 Debra October 19, 2012 at 2:09 am

Good Grief this is AMAZING…I started drooling at the name, the photo’s took it over the edge and my keyboard has been drowned.

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17 Tina | My Life as a Mrs October 19, 2012 at 7:03 am

You are speaking my language, Shawnda… looks amazing! :)

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18 Dana October 19, 2012 at 8:11 am

You can’t go wrong with pasta, cheese, broccoli, or bacon. All four together is dreamy!

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19 Liz October 19, 2012 at 12:33 pm

I know what I’m making for dinner. This looks great!! :-)

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20 Michelle November 8, 2012 at 8:08 am

Definately adding this to my recipe list, thank you.

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21 Laura November 8, 2012 at 5:30 pm

This was insanely good, for being so insanely easy. Thanks for this keeper!
PS – I went ahead and invited some Pepper Jack to the party, just for kicks :)

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22 Kian February 24, 2013 at 11:41 am

Great post.

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