Asparagus tips covered in a creamy white cheddar cheese sauce with pasta shells. A healthyish take on classic baked white cheddar mac and cheese.
For the Pasta
- 2 ½ cups of organic pasta shells or brown rice pasta
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- Organic unsalted butter, for the dish
For the Cheese Sauce
- 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) organic unsalted butter
- 4 Tbsp organic cassava flour
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 cups organic whole milk
- 2 cups organic grated sharp white cheddar
- 1/2 bunch of asparagus, blanched (1 ½ cups of asparagus
For the Topping
- 1/4 cup organic grated sharp white cheddar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a square 8 x 8 or similar 2-quarts baking dish.
- Follow cooking directions for the pasta shells according to the brand you purchase. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and a drizzle of olive oil to the water while cooking the pasta. Cook till al dente. Set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, blanch the asparagus. Bring 4 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil. Trim the ends off asparagus, add to boiling water for 5 seconds and drain. Once cool, slice asparagus tips and stalk at a sharp angle. Set aside.
- Start the cheese sauce. Melt 4 tablespoon of butter in a medium sauce pot. Using spatula, stir in the flour and salt, one tablespoon at a time, over medium heat. Stir till flour is fully incorporated and let cook for about 3 minutes, letting the flour and butter slightly darken.
- Slowly whisk in 1 cup of milk till fully incorporated, then the remaining 1 cup of milk. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until the cheese sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Using a spatula, stir in the cheese until it is melted. Add the drained pasta and asparagus to the cheese sauce and mix thoroughly. Transfer the macaroni and cheese to the prepared baking dish. Top with remaining ¼ cup grated cheese.
- Bake for 15 minutes. To brown the cheese for a crispy top, place under the broiler for 1-4 minutes depending on your oven.
- If using an alternative pasta to wheat, then undercook the pasta by 3 minutes.
- Want just asparagus tips in this recipe? Use 1 ½ bunches.
- I prefer a medium stalk over very thin or thick asparagus for this dish.
- Remember the quality of your ingredients improves the taste and satisfaction of the dish. Don’t skimp on the butter, whole milk and cheddar cheese.
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