Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Welcome to Claire's: 35 Years of Recipes and Reflections from the Landmark Vegetarian Restaurant

Welcome to Claire's

By Claire Criscuolo

Published 2014

  • About

When I was growing up, my mother made macaroni and cheese. She always added broccoli to it because broccoli was one of what we referred to as the Big Three: broccoli, carrots, and spinach, the three vegetables she served every single day. Her insistence paid off because we’ve grown to be “good vegetable eaters” and she was always proud of that. Today, mac and cheese is quite the comfort food. We make it as a special a few times a week.


  • Sea salt
  • 1 pound organic whole wheat pasta, penne or other
  • 2 medium organic broccoli crowns, cut into small bunches of florets (about 6 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons organic butter, cut into slices, divided
  • 1 quart organic whole milk
  • 1 medium sweet organic onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves organic garlic, sliced
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) shredded organic Cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) shredded low-fat organic mozzarella cheese
  • Pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • ¼ cup dry organic bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan and Romano cheese mixture (optional)
  • ¼ cup organic flax meal


  1. Bring a large covered pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta according to package directions, and about 2 minutes before the pasta is cooked to your preference, add the broccoli florets. Before draining, reserve ½ cup of the cooking water. (A good way to remember is to place a measuring cup in a colander set in the sink.) Drain the pasta and broccoli and turn back into the pot. Add 1 tablespoon (one-third) of the sliced butter and the reserved cooking water to the pasta. Using a wooden spoon, toss to coat. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. Cook the milk with the onion and garlic in a pot over medium-high heat, bringing it only to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the milk is hot but not boiling or scorched and the onions are just tender, about 12 minutes.
  4. Stir in the Cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, a little sea salt and pepper, and the nutmeg, stirring constantly until the cheeses melt, about a minute. Pour the mixture over the pasta and broccoli, using a rubber spatula to scrape the pot. Using a wooden spoon, stir to combine. Taste for seasonings. Spray a 3-quart, 13 × 9 × 2-inch glass baking dish with organic olive oil spray. Turn the pasta and cheese mixture into the prepared baking dish, using a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl and to spread the mixture evenly in the dish. Measure the bread crumbs, grated Parmesan and Romano cheeses, and flax meal into a small bowl, then stir to mix. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small pot over medium heat, stirring for about a minute until it melts, then add the bread crumb mixture and stir to coat with the melted butter. Spoon the buttered crumbs evenly over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes until the topping is crunchy.