very green broccoli mac & cheese

YES I PUT BROCCOLI (AND SPINACH) IN THE MAC & CHEESE BUT HEAR ME OUT. When Estelle turned three she actually asked for this dish to be served for her birthday lunch with friends. Despite a pretty serious invasion of vegetables, this stuff is very tasty. Downright company-worthy. Especially when you’re two going on three.

very green mac & cheese

Getting a St. Patrick’s Day color is simple: bust out the blender and add baby spinach plus blanched broccoli florets (or previously frozen florets that have thawed out) to the milk before adding to your pasta. This is similar to our macaroni & cheese with carrots, or macaroni & cheese with cauliflower. The point is, why not add another layer of flavor, color and nutrition to an already good thing?

If you have anyone who will object to broccoli in her pasta–the way Phoebe kept asking Why do you keep putting broccoli in the macaroni?–use a food processor to get the chunks very small. If you want to use the blender twice (you’ll need it for the spinach), steam the broccoli in water using the microwave then blend. Pour the whole broccoli mixture into the pasta at the 3rd step below, instead of adding to the pasta water to cook.

  • 2 cups whole wheat macaroni
  • 2 cups pureed/chopped up broccoli
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 2½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and grease 8-inch square baking pan.
  2. Cook macaroni according to package instructions in a large pot of salted boiling water; add chopped broccoli 3 minutes before pasta is finished cooking; drain well. Use a blender to combine milk and spinach.
  3. While pasta is hot, stir in all but ½ cup of the cheddar, butter, sour cream, milk + spinach, eggs, salt, and pepper.
  4. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar and the parmesan over the top. Bake until the casserole is firm to the touch and golden, green-ish brown, about 30 minutes.


broccoli mac & cheese, foodlets



  1. Lori says

    I made this dinner tonight knowing it’d be a crowd pleaser! Chris loves pasta and cheese– anything drowning in pasta and cheese– and I love the idea of some veggies mixed in. He ‘tolerated’ the veggies and I ate more than I should because I couldn’t help myself! Obviously the kids loved– why wouldn’t they! It was delicious– thanks!

    • charityc says

      Yay! Love it when the main dish can add a serving of veggies too. Thanks for letting us know it worked out!

  2. Degi says

    Thank you very much for your creative recipes, they are very interesting and fun for the kids. Your website was recommended by our pediatrician in Rome. We love in Rome, italy.
    I would like to try this one, but it is hard to find cheddar cheese in here. Can you recommend other cheese that can melt like cheddar but might be available in Rome, since (i understood that) you have been in Italy.

    Thanks a lot.

    • charityc says

      Hi Degi! Thanks so much for your note. Did Dr. Stainier refer you to Foodlets? That’s so great to hear!

      We did live in Rome for 4 years and 3 of our kids were born there, so I know just what you mean.

      Any type of nice melting cheese would work great. Fontina would be great, or Taleggio. Obviously those will taste different than cheddar but still nice! I’d add some Parmigiano to either one. Or you could try a mix with Emmental (Swiss) or Gruyere, which aren’t Italian but might be more available than cheddar. Let us know how it goes and give my best to Dr. Stainier!


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