Rich, hearty and healthy veggie-packed mac & cheese with fontina cheese, rosemary and garlic. A quick and easy vegetarian meal to throw together that’s filled with flavor and nutrients!
For the longest time, I didn’t get the whole deal about cast iron skillets. They just seemed like so much….work. Not to mention–this is embarrassing–but when I first started cooking, I didn’t like to use anything where I couldn’t use that fake “zero calorie” spray. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the diet mentality is a tough one to break, and I still keep that crap in my house (guilty), but my thoughts on cooking and eating have changed quite a bit.
My mom had this cast iron pan sitting around for years. She wasn’t exactly sure what to cook with it, and she’s much less adventurous (though still an AWESOME cook!) in the kitchen than I am. She has a few staples and will always make our favorite dishes, where as I cook something new every single time I have anyone over. I can’t help it.
Anyway, I started talking about wanting a cast iron skillet and my mom decided to pass hers down to me. She is always giving me the best hand-me-downs. I still have this awesome big red recliner chair that doesn’t match anything that she gave me when I moved into my first apartment. Winston and Clementine have kind of claimed it as their own in the last couple of years, but I still love that chair, and I kinda feel the same attachment towards my cast iron.
It’s definitely not an all-the-time dish in my house, but it makes things more special, and once you cook with one, you will absolutely understand what all the fuss is about! So when The Recipe ReDux asked us to tell a story about a treasured piece of cookware, I immediately knew I wanted to share my cast iron with you guys.
You don’t have to have a cast iron to make this mac and cheese. Of course it will make it better, and it certainly is a pretty way to present it, but you could easily use any pan you choose. What really makes this dish stand out is the combination of seared brussels sprouts with garlic and olive oil with creamy and sharp fontina cheese and a touch of rosemary. The flavors work flawlessly together, and even if you don’t normally get excited for brussels sprouts, I promise you’ll want to give these ones a chance. In fact, if you still don’t like them after eating this, I will do awesome embarrassing acts of your choosing. Within reason.
Rich, hearty and healthy veggie-packed mac & cheese with fontina cheese, rosemary and garlic. A quick and easy vegetarian meal to throw together that's filled with flavor and nutrients!
- 8 ounces uncooked whole grain macaroni (I used gluten-free, use whatever works for you)
- ~2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 pound brussels sprouts, ends removed and halved
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- salt and pepper
- 8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or whatever milk you'd like)
- 1 cup freshly grated fontina cheese
- 1 large sprig rosemary, stem removed and finely minced
- In medium pot, cook macaroni according to package instructions. When finished, strain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat a large pan (8-10", preferably cast iron or stainless steal for best searing) over medium heat. If using a cast iron, keep in mind you do not need to use as much heat. Coat bottom with olive oil using about 1 tablespoon. Place halved brussels sprouts cut side down, season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper and sear until browned, about 5-7 minutes. Flip and cook opposite side until browned, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir occasionally.
- Once you get your brussels started, heat a medium pot or high rimmed pan over medium low heat. Coat with olive oil using about 1 tablespoon. Add garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add cream cheese and milk. Season with salt and pepper and whisk constantly until cream cheese is melted and milk and cheese are combined, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in fontina and mix until incorporated.
- Stir cooked pasta into prepared cheese sauce then transfer to your cast iron and stir into cooked brussels sprouts. Stir in fresh rosemary. Serve immediately. Leftovers may be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.