Mac and cheese is one of those dishes that brings people together. I’ll share a box of store-brand elbows and cheddar cheese with my niece just as easily as I’ll dive into a homemade cheese pasta dish. That being said, there is a perfect balance that I always try to achieve: gooey cheese sauce, al dente pasta, rich and savory flavor, a few veg and not a lot of hands-on work. After all, it’s mac and cheese, not beef bourguignon. Martha Stewart’s Baked Broccoli and Artichoke Shells hit all of those notes, and they’re packed with bacon for good measure. It looks like a weekday win for us.
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It really is that easy to do. The first step is to pre-cook your shellfish pasta and broccoli. Then you mix a simple sauce made with milk, white cheddar cheese and Parmigiano. It has a strong bite, but is still succulent and creamy enough to coat pasta, broccoli, artichokes, and crispy pieces of bacon that you toss in before transferring everything to a baking dish.
This can be a controversial take, but we’ll also say that if you’re pressed for time, you can skip the cooking step altogether. My family prefers uncooked macaroni and cheese, so I will often toast panko breadcrumbs in a pan to scatter over the macaroni and cheese after the pasta and toppings have been combined with the cheese sauce, and to this way everyone happy.
That being said, if you like a firmer mac and cheese, skip to the baking step. Transfer the pasta to a baking dish, then sprinkle the top with a mixture of panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, with a few crispy bits around the edges – after all, if you’re * going * to bake your pasta, you want some of that grilled cheese flavor.
The final result ? Pasta, broccoli, and artichokes in such a smooth, creamy, cheesy sauce, even kids who are generally disgusted with vegetables won’t be afraid to eat them. The crispy bits of bacon sprinkled around don’t hurt either!
In under 45 minutes, you’ve got a hearty fall and winter meal the whole family will love, and it doesn’t come out of a box. As Stewart would say: “That’s a good thing!
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Watch: We tried Ina Garten’s overnight mac and cheese and we fully understand why it broke the internet