A classic comfort food at its best! Simple protein packed mac and cheese made with chickpeas! Yes you read it right! Chickpeas is my secret ingredient to this creamy and dreamy sauce and I promise that you will not even taste it! I love cooking with legumes and I love to incorporate them in our meals to boost the nutrition benefits. Before we get started take a look on my legumes recipes for some inspiration.
What you will need
- Chickpeas. Yes chickpeas! This makes the sauce so creamy and also boosts the protein intake so its a win-win situation! You will not be able to taste the chickpeas and this is a plus for any picky eaters. Also, you can use any white bean instead, like canellini beans or navy beans.
- Pasta. I used chickpea pasta but you can use any pasta that you love.
- Cheese. Well you can’t really cook mac and cheese without a good amount of melty cheese! I used cheddar cheese which I shredded. To avoid any additives, I like to shred the cheese myself but of course you can use the pre-shredded packages.
- Milk. You can use any milk of your choice. I used regular whole cow’s milk.
- Veggies. You can use any vegetables that you and your kids like. Just make sure that you cut it in bite size pieces. I used broccoli, peas and corn which I just boiled for a couple of minutes until fork tender. You can use carrots, peppers, cauliflower, pumpkin, squash, zucchini. The possibilities are endless!
- Extras: breadcrumbs and parmesan. You will need those if you decided to finish the dish in the oven. This is totally optional but I like this extra step. The top get more crispy and the texture is amazing.
To boost the protein intake even more, I used chickpeas pasta. I wanted to keep this gluten-free. We are not a gluten-free family but if I can increase the nutrition of a meal I will do it. And using alternative pasta from legumes is a great way to do so. Chickpea pasta are our favorite alternative pasta as the taste and texture is perfect and very close to regular wheat pasta. However, you can make this will any pasta that you want.
The best pasta shape for this recipe is either macaroni or shells. You want a pasta shape in a bite size and also a shape which absorbs all the creamy sauce.
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Simple protein packed mac and cheeseCourse: MainDifficulty: Easy
8 oz (226.8 grams) pasta (I used chickpea pasta)
2 cups chickpeas, boiled
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup milk
½ cup hot water, reserved from boiling the pasta
1½ cup veggies of your choice (ex broccoli, peas, corn), boiled
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
2 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
pepper to taste
olive oil to grease the pan
- In a pot boil the pasta per package direction
- Drain the pasta and save ½ cup of the water
- In a blender add the chickpeas and milk and blend until smooth
- In a pot add the blended chickpeas, pasta water, cheddar cheese and pepper and stir over medium heat until cheese melts
- Add the vegetables and pasta and stir gently until they are fully coated
- Optionally but recommended
- Preheat your oven at 360F (182.22 degrees Celsius) and grease a 13” x 9” baking sheet tray
- Transfer the mac and cheese in the baking sheet tray
- Top with breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese
- Bake for 5-6 min or until golden brown