Dinner, Nutrition, Pregnancy, Recipe

Easy Cheesy Fennel Mac

You know that feeling when you’re really craving something? That was me the other day. With mac n cheese. I knew I had to have it, and I knew it had to be the best of the best. Which meant I had to make it from scratch.

mac n cheese banza

It was perfect timing really because I had just ordered a six-pack of Banza “wheels” — pasta made from chickpeas. So of course I utilized those babies in my mac. I’m all for homemade comfort food, but I’m also all for nutrient density. Therefore, this mac is made with organic, whole ingredients and of course, some vegetables. 🙂

It’s basically a bĂ©chamel sauce with sautĂ©ed fennel and collard greens mixed in, topped with more greens (sunflower greens), salt, and fresh cracked black pepper. It’s cheesy, creamy, salty and savory. All the best things!

mac n cheese greens raw

Fennel & Collard Mac n Cheese

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups Banza (or whole wheat) pasta
  • 1/4 cup butter (from grass-fed cows)
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups whole milk (organic)
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (1/2 white 1/2 regular — also organic)
  • 1 bunch collard greens, stemmed, chopped
  • 1-2 fennel bulbs, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp avocado oil

DIRECTIONS

1. Chop all veggies and measure out all other ingredients so they’re ready to go.

2. Put a pot of water on the stove to boil for the pasta (refer to pasta packaging for specific instructions).

3. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and form a roux; keep stirring. Next, add in the salt and pepper. Stir.

4. Mix the milk in nice and slow, stirring to keep the flour from clumping up (especially important if you’re using the whole wheat flour). I’m talking, really, really slow.

5. Cook and stir until well combined and bubbles begin to form.

6. Stir in the cheese a little bit at a time until it is all melted and combined. And delicious.

7. Throw pasta in boiling water once it’s ready and cook according to instructions.

8. Heat avocado oil in a skillet or pan over medium heat. Add in fennel and cook, stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes or until translucent and aromatic. Add collard greens and cook until bright green and tender, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.

9. Drain pasta once it’s done (be careful not to over cook the Banza pasta) and immediately add to cheese (bĂ©chamel) sauce. Next, add in the sautĂ©ed veggies. Stir gently to combine.

10. Serve in a bowl with fresh, organic sunflower greens on the side and top with a little more salt and fresh cracked black pepper to your heart’s content. Enjoy!

mac n cheese final

This recipe does take a little extra work with the vegetables included,  but it makes it more of a balanced, nutritious meal. In this mac you get a good dose of vitamin c, potassium, calcium, folate, fiber, protein, fat and carbohydrates (less than normal if you used the Banza pasta)! Protect against cancer, fuel your muscles and brain (and maybe growing baby if you’re pregnant), and satisfy that cheesy craving all in one meal.

I really enjoyed this dish and the leftovers were gone by the next day. Can’t wait to play around with flavors and veggie combos.

xo,

Natalie

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