Does anyone else have a super picky toddler? I swear, all my daughter wants to eat is scrambled eggs, toast with peanut butter and jam, pears, nectarines, yogourt and pasta. And not just any yogourt, but the Paw Patrol yogourt. And not just any pasta – it has to be the tubed ones like rigatoni or penne. I try to sneak in veggies wherever I can – I scramble her eggs with chopped up spinach and I try to sneak in some veggies in her pasta dishes, but she usually just picks around them and just eats the pasta. Her daycare teacher tells me that she eats very well at daycare, but I find that hard to believe. Or maybe she enjoys eating with the other little kids, who knows. All I know is that dinnertime is such a hassle with her. My husband and I certainly don’t want to eat pasta every day, so what I end up doing is making a big pasta dish for her every other day, so that on the day that she’s eating leftovers, my husband and I can actually eat something else for dinner!
This broccoli and cheddar pasta is her absolute favourite and she would eat it every day if I let her. When she sees me plating it up, she is grabbing at my leg, pointing, yelling “pasta, pasta!” , and can’t wait to sit down at the table to devour it. I don’t mind making this for her often because it is easy to make and takes only about 20-30 minutes. I sneak the broccoli in there but she just picks around it. I don’t mind though, because I like to eat all the broccoli out of it while she eats all the pasta. Win-win! I also like that you don’t have to cook your broccoli separately. I just cut it up into small florets, rinse them and leave them in the strainer. Then, when my pasta is done cooking, I drain my pasta through that same strainer. The boiling water from the cooked pasta will cook the broccoli just enough to turn them bright green but still retain some crunch.
I like to use Bothwell medium cheddar cheese for this recipe, but feel free to use marbled, mild or strong cheddar. I find that the medium adds just enough bite and flavour without being too bland or too overwhelming. I grate the cheese using the biggest holes on my grater – it just helps the cheese melt faster and more evenly. I use up the entire 170g block of cheese and you can often find these on sale at Safeway for about $4.99 for a small block.
I highly recommend this recipe for picky eaters. Give it a try and let me know what you think. I’ll be making this again in the next few days so follow me on Instagram if you want to see the play by play on my Instagram stories!
Broccoli and Cheddar PastaPrint Recipe
- Approx 500 grams of pasta (I buy the 454 gram boxes or packages of penne or rigatoni)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 1/3 cups of whole milk
- 1 cup of half and half cream
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 small head of broccoli, chopped into small florets
- 170 grams of medium cheddar cheese, grated
- salt and pepper to taste
Chop your broccoli into small florets, rinse and leave in the strainer.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook your pasta according to the package instructions; drain with the same strainer that the broccoli is in
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and shallot and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes.
Add in the flour and whisk for about 1 minute until lightly browned. Gradually whisk in milk, cream and Dijon mustard until it thickens, about 5 minutes. If you feel it is too thick, add in a little bit more milk. Season with salt and pepper.
Stir in pasta, broccoli and grated cheese until well combined, about 5 more minutes.