Pasta, Rice, and Grains

Bacon and Pea Macaroni & Cheese with Greek Yogurt

by Shawnda on December 23, 2012

in Lighter & Healthier,Pasta, Rice, and Grains,Pork,Quick & Easy

Bacon and Pea Macaroni & Cheese

It’s the day before Christmas Eve. And like just about everyone else, I have a ginormous to-do list.

I’m supposed to be bagging up the biscotti and wrapping caramels.

Instead, I’m watching a disappointing football game (spoil it and tell me it gets better – I’m an entire half behind), trying to relax after hitting 6 or 7 stores in what will forever be known as the Great Cranberry Clusterdebacle of 2012, and wearing a shirt that smells like I burned 4 pieces of bacon at breakfast.

And that’s because I burned the bacon at breakfast.

Bacon and Pea Macaroni & Cheese

But I didn’t burn the bacon at lunch. And that was important because it was the last of the bacon in the house and there’s no way I’m stepping foot into another grocery store until December 26th. At least.

Bacon and Pea Macaroni & Cheese

Dress up homemade macaroni and cheese with crispy bacon and green peas.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz penne or macaroni pasta (I use Dreamfields)
  • 8 oz frozen peas
  • 4 thick slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (I use fat-free Greek)
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • 4 oz cheddar, shredded
  • 4 oz fontina, shredded (or other melt-friendly cheese - not more cheddar)
  • 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 pasta in salted water according to package directions, until al dente.
  3. Add the peas to the pasta water in the last minute of cooking.
  4. Reserve 1 cup pasta water before draining the pasta and peas.
  5. Return the pasta and peas to pot.
  6. Add 1/4 cup pasta water (it must be hot), the yogurt, a few dashes of hot sauce, and 1/3 of the grated cheese and stir until the cheese has melted.
  7. Stir in remaining cheese, one small handful at a time to prevent clumping.
  8. Add additional pasta water as necessary to thin and melt the cheese sauce.
  9. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. Add the bacon, mix well, and serve.

Notes

Yields: 4 servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 20 minutes

Nutritional Information*
Calories: 425.3 | Fat: 15.5g | Fiber 12.4g | Protein 23.8g | Carbs 14.5g
Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 7

*Your nutritional count may vary based on the brands you’ve used. I use Dreamfields Pasta (because my dad is diabetic and can eat it without too much of a noticeable spike) and it has reduced impact on digestible carbs and might account for larger discrepancies in fiber and carbs per serving.

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Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

In my family, Thanksgiving has 3 rules. And they all involve cheese:

1) There must be broccoli & rice casserole. I can bring roasted broccoli for a healthier broccoli dish. But it has to be served alongside of – not instead of – the casserole.

2) I must make the broccoli & rice casserole. Me. Shawnda. We spend every other Thanksgiving day with Jason’s family and every other Thanksgiving day, my little brother complains about how the casserole just isn’t the same. Even though it totally is. Except that one time my sister messed it up. I won’t embarrass her to the world… but her “fix” might have involved stirring in uncooked non-instant rice to firm things up about 27 seconds before it was time to eat. Crunchy casserole = no bueno casserole. And a whiny little brother.

3) Don’t mess with the broccoli & rice casserole recipe. The temptation, it’s great with this one. It’s loaded with not-real cheese, more butter than it needs, one of the maligned cream-of soups, and scandalously white rice. It’s not fancy but it’s tradition and it’s delicious and it’s a family (especially little brother) favorite.

So this year, I’m totally messing with the broccoli & rice casserole. It’s hard to disown a family member when you’re actually eating dinner at her house, right? Right?

And I’m not doing it to be a jerk. For serious. I’ve always wanted to make the dish a little more healthful – a task that at Thanksgiving, always feels like shooting a BB gun at a freight train. But after eating a bowl of it for dinner the other night, I have very little doubt that my little brother will be more than “just” fine with a less-processed version.

The texture of the quinoa is similar to rice. There’s still plenty of cheese. The top of the dish still gets those little crisped brown bites that he sneaks into the kitchen and steals before the rest of dinner is ready. There’s still plenty of that one bowl, creamy comfort food factor going on.

And more importantly, there’s plenty of real food going on.

Or I could be completely wrong and my little brother will be holding auditions for the role of new big sister before the first football is in the air on Thanksgiving.

Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

Rich, cheesy, and comforting, this less-processed version of broccoli and rice casserole uses quinoa and real cheese and is made without cream of mushroom soup. Make it a one-dish meal and add leftover shredded chicken!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa, uncooked
  • 2 crowns of broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups milk (I use 2%)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp spicy brown mustard (I use Creole)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cup leftover shredded chicken (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. In a medium sauce pan, cook the quinoa in water with a generous pinch of salt, according to package, directions and then set aside.
  3. In a large pot, add the broccoli and a couple of inches of water.
  4. Cover the pot, bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes, and then drain and rinse with cold water.
  5. Return the drained broccoli to the large pot and add the quinoa.
  6. In a saute pan over medium heat, melt the butter.
  7. Whisk in the flour, onion, garlic, mustard, cayenne, a generous pinch of salt and black pepper.
  8. Let cook 1-2 minutes and then slowly add the milk, whisking until the sauce is smooth.
  9. Let the sauce simmer, reducing the heat if necessary, about 5 minutes until thickened and bubbling.
  10. Remove from heat, whisk in the cheddar a handful at a time until completely melted.
  11. Salt and pepper to taste.
  12. Pour sauce over broccoli-quinoa mixture and toss to coat, mixing well.
  13. Transfer mixture to a casserole dish and bake 35-30 minutes, until the top is nicely browned.
  14. Serve warm.

Notes

Yields: 10-12 servings

Slightly adapted from Annie's Eats

Estimated time: 1 hour 15 minutes

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Roasted Broccoli Carbonara

Today is the last day of October and that means two things: 1) National Pasta Month is coming to an end and 2) We start the 24-hour countdown before I’m allowed to say the words “Thanksgiving” and “menu” out loud.

So let’s talk about the former. That dish up there, that is Roasted Broccoli Carbonara. It’s our favorite carbonara pasta recipe made over to be a little more nutritious of a one-bowl dinner. Because let’s be real, most of us could probably use a little green stuff to help offset tonight’s candy binge.

Peanut Butter Kisses for the win! Am I right?!

Roasted Broccoli Carbonara

No?

That candy has never gotten the respect it deserves. But back to the carbonara.

The sauce is a more traditional eggs, parmesan, and bacon mixture with a generous dose of black pepper (and the pepper is simmered so it infuses the oil that much more). A few splashes of pasta water, some penne, and a pan of roasted broccoli later, you’ve got dinner on the table in about 30 minutes.

And with plenty of room left for that late-night, quality assurance inspection of your kids’ candy haul.

Happy Halloween!

Roasted Broccoli Carbonara

Roasted broccoli replaces half of the penne to lighten up this traditional pasta carbonara a bit.

Ingredients

  • 2 crowns broccoli
  • 8 oz penne pasta
  • 3 Tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 3/4 cups shredded Parmesan, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 3 egg yolks
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Bring a pot of salted water to boil and line a baking sheet with foil.
  3. Cut the broccoli into medium florets and place on the baking sheet.
  4. Drizzle with 3 Tbsp olive oil, toss the broccoli to coat (hands-on works great, gets everything evenly coated), and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt.
  5. Roast for 12-15 minutes, until nicely browned. While the broccoli is roasting, cook the pasta and the bacon - everything will be done at about the same time, important because the pasta and water need to be hot.
  6. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a saute pan over high heat and add the bacon, cooking until almost completely crisped.
  7. Add the black pepper and when bacon has completely browned, remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl (big enough for mixing the entire recipe).
  8. Mix the eggs and 1 1/2 cups cheese together in a smaller bowl, then add to the bacon mixture, stirring to mix well.
  9. Add pasta to boiling water and cook per package directions. Set aside 1 cup of pasta water and then drain the pasta.
  10. Immediately add the hot pasta and a splash or two of the hot pasta water (~2 Tbsp at a time) to the bowl, while stirring vigorously to create a creamy sauce.
  11. Add the broccoli, toss to coat (adding additional water if necessary).
  12. Serve sprinkled with remaining cheese.

Notes

Yields: 4 generous servings

Adapted from Saveur

Estimated time: 30 minutes

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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

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