The ultimate mac & cheese mix in - broccoli pesto! A yummy way to get your kids to eat more veggies.
Some exiting news – the book is done(!) and off to print this week. I’ll share some sneak peaks a little later but suffice it to say – I’m tired. I never thought I would say this but after shooting, testing, retesting, checking and rechecking so many recipes – I became a little “cooked” out. Over the last few weeks, while working through final copy and design edits, there’s been a lot of takeout around here and more than a few boxes of macaroni and cheese. But no one is complaining – especially not my mac & cheese-loving husband Jack. He would be more than thrilled if every night was mac & cheese night!
Right now we’re loving Annie’s Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese with a few extra green touches, of course. This version with broccoli and broccoli pesto mixed in is one of our favorites…
I make my broccoli pesto with blanched broccoli florets, basil, and pepitas. You can use pine nuts or walnuts if that’s what you have on hand. I love making pesto with pepitas because they are inexpensive, and they make your pesto a very vibrant green color. This pesto recipe makes extra, so you can either save the rest to mix into your mac and cheese again the next night, or slather it on your eggs & toast the next morning.
We’ve always been a big fan of Annie’s products – their Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese is made with organic wheat penne pasta, and only high-quality non-GMO ingredients. Not to mention, it’s so creamy and delicious.
What do you like to mix into your mac & cheese? Share a photo on Instagram of your favorite “mix in” creation and hashtag it #mixinmonday.
Broccoli Pesto Mac & Cheese
- 4 cups broccoli florets (reserve 2 cups for the pesto below)
- 1 (5.5 ounce) box Annie’s Four Cheese Macaroni & Cheese
- ½ cup unsweetened almond milk, or regular milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups broccoli florets, blanched
- 3 tablespoons pepitas (or pine nuts)
- Handful of fresh basil
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- Handful of toasted pepitas or pine nuts
- Pinches of red pepper flakes
- Sprinkle of chives
- Prepare a large saucepan of salted boiling water and a large bowl of ice water. Drop all four cups of broccoli florets into the boiling water and blanch for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until slightly tender but still vibrant green. Remove and immediately place immerse into the ice water for 1 minute, then drain.
- Make the pesto: In a food processor, combine 2 cups of the blanched broccoli with the pepitas, basil, and garlic. Pulse until combined. Add the lemon juice and a few generous pinches of salt and pepper and pulse again. With the blade running, add the olive oil until the pesto becomes smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside.
- Rinse the saucepan you used for the broccoli, fill it with fresh water, and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta in a colander. While the pasta is draining, add the milk and butter to the warm saucepan. Sprinkle the cheese over the milk and stir to combine. Add the cooked pasta to the saucepan and stir well. Stir in the remaining 2 cups of blanched broccoli florets until the broccoli is warmed through. Stir in a few scoops of pesto. Serve with extra pesto and optional toppings on the side.
- Store extra pesto in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.
This post is sponsored by Annie’s Homegrown, which we love. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that keep us cooking!
Hi! I made the pesto exactly as written, except I used blanched, sliced almonds in lieu of the pepitas in order to increase the amount of calcium in this dish. I used 2.5 tablespoons of lemon juice, which I reject because it turned out was too lemony and way too thin. Hence, it’s more like a broccoli-lemon sauce. So, I’ll have to add more basil and a tablespoon of nutrition yeast to improve it and turn it into a pesto.
That said, take care.
Hi! Just wondering: does this broccoli pesto freeze okay? I assume it does, but please confirm.
Thanks in advance as I have a big bag of broccoli to use up soon.
yes (apologies for my late replies), the pesto will freeze great.
Kids just love this and so do we!