Veggie Lentil Mac and Cheese

Veggie Lentil Mac & Cheese | Mama.Papa.Bubba.

While most mac and cheese dishes aren’t overly nutritious, this version is packed with protein, veggies, and whole grain pasta, so I  feel good about giving it to Miss G and she’s just thrilled that she gets to eat a giant bowl of pasta and call it a day.

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Despite requiring a couple of pots and a blender or food processor, this veggie lentil mac and cheese comes together quite quickly and makes for an easy hot meal after we’ve stayed outside soaking up the afternoon sun for much longer than we really should have. The whole family enjoys it and since it does cover most of the food groups, it’s in fairly regular rotation around here.

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The recipe is less of an actual recipe and more of a guide as there are so many possibilities, but here’s how we usually make it…

Veggie Lentil Mac & Cheese

  • 1 500 gram package of wholegrain pasta
  • 1 medium carrot, washed and chopped
  • 1 small piece of squash, seeded, skinned, and chopped
  • 1 chunk of zucchini, skinned
  • 1 small chunk of cauliflower, washed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup of dry red lentils
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of basil
  • dash of cayenne pepper (this doesn’t make the dish spicy…just adds a little depth to the flavour)
  • sea salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup of sharp cheddar, grated

Put two pots of water on the stove to boil, one smaller one and one bigger one.

While waiting for the water to boil, wash and chop the vegetables (the combination is really up to you… we just use what we have in the fridge at the time and it always turns out deliciously).

When the water in the smaller pot comes to a bowl, add your veggies and lentils and cook at a gentle boil.

Add the pasta to the larger pot of boiling water and cook according to the package’s al dente instructions.

When the lentils and veggies are very soft and mash easily with a fork, drain them while reserving a few tablespoons of the cooking water.  Pop the lentils and veggies into your blender or food processor along with your herbs and spices and puree until completely smooth.  Return the puree to the veggie pot and add the grated cheese.  Stir over low heat until the cheese is fully melted and the sauce is smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add a little bit of the cooking liquid to thin out the sauce if desired.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it well and return it to the pot along with the cheesy veggie sauce (you don’t have to use all of it if you don’t want to, but we like our pasta saucy) and mix well.

Serve and watch your munchkins gobble it up.

Enjoy!

 

Expert tip:  To make this dish even easier, double up on the veggies and lentils, then save half of the puree in an airtight container in the freezer.  The next time you make it, all you have to do is take the puree out of the freezer and defrost it. 

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20 thoughts on “Veggie Lentil Mac and Cheese

      1. So I couldn’t wait to make this for dinner last night and it was just delicious!!!! Both my husband and our two-year-old absolutely loved it. Thank you so much for this great recipe. It will become a regular for us!

  1. Awesome! I can’t have any dairy so would it be terrible if I ommited the cheese? Also, how much lentils do you use?
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Melanie! Hmmm… Good question – I’m not sure how it would be without the cheese. I mean I know it would taste good because the veggie and lentil mixture is yummy all on it’s own, but I’m thinking it would probably lack the creaminess and be very much like veggie puree on pasta. Let me know what you think if you try it!

      Thanks for catching the lentil omission! I’ve updated the post now… It’s 1/2 a cup. 🙂

  2. I also have a very similar pasta recipe which my toddler loves that is a puree of frozen peas and lentils stirred with cheese. Green Mac and Cheese! Hot pasta water poured over the peas and cooked lentils then pureed. Makes for a beautiful green pasta sauce!

  3. alright mama J – you have blown me away with this! So simple, so fast, so darned delicious… no toddler even required! (though mine gobbled it up) I’ve passed the recipe on to a few of my single gals who just love good food! Thank you for sharing the secrets to making a comfort food so healthy and flavourful! (I must admit I at least doubled the pureed portion to be sure I had enough to jazz up a few more meals!) fun fun! Thanks again!

    1. Yay – that’s awesome, Tara! I know… Toddler approved, but just as yummy for adults too! Even Brad likes it… Now that says something for it! 😉

  4. Hey! This sounds delish! Unfortunately I’m having to now disguise any veggies that aren’t peas or carrots!
    Just wondering, can the veggie and lentil mix be frozen?
    I like to batch cook for ‘convenience food’ mid week! 😉 x

    1. Hey Sarah! Such a great question! The answer is YES!!! I often make a big batch of the veggie/lentil puree, freeze half, and then the next time I go to make the meal, it’s really quick and easy! 🙂

  5. I am a southern girl! Even though my dad was in the Navy and we had different duty stations, one thing that never changed was my mother’s “macaroni pie”. She is from South Carolina and we both now live in SC. As an adult, I have become conscious of the number of eggs in my diet. I cut out the ones in the macaroni pie and began to make a cheese sauce. It’s okay, but just missing something. Then I made some in my crock pot. The recipe called for that boxed cheese. I omitted that and the stick of butter and stuck with cheddar and gouda cheeses. Awesome! My family loved it. Now it’s just my husband and I and our youngest son (19yo). So we are all scouting the Internet looking for healthier recipes and I think you have created a winner. Even though he’s 19 sometime the texture of veggies throws off my son. He is willing to at least try this! Than you so much for sharing your recipe (s)!

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