This is a “healthier” alternative to straight up mac and cheese because there is an addition of broccoli! You can serve this as the main course, or as a side as well. It is great to make on a busy night because it only takes around an hour to prepare. It is my mom’s recipe and starts off by making a roux based cheese sauce. Then you toss pasta, broccoli, and the sauce together and finish it in the oven. It is pretty filling and perfect for a winter meal.
Baked Broccoli and Pasta (8-10 servings as a side)
1 pound pasta
8 oz of grated cheese (I used Fontina this time, but have also used mixtures of cheddar, mozzarella, etc.)
2-3 cups of steamed broccoli
5-6 tablespoons of salted butter
5-6 tablespoons of flour
1 cup milk, or cream if you are feeling especially indulgent (may need more if the cheese makes the sauce too thick)
1 cup of panko (or any other type of breadcrumbs)
1/2 stick melted salted butter
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
Start boiling water in a pot to cook the pasta. Cook according to the box’s instructions, but remove the pasta from the heat a couple minutes early (because you will finish baking it in the oven).
Place the panko and melted butter in a small bowl and mix until incorporated.
Heat the butter in a pan on the stovetop. Slowly add spoonfuls of the flour and incorporate it into the butter before adding more. Then slowly add the milk to this mixture. It will be thick and should coat the back of a spoon. Add in the cheese and mix until melted.
In a large baking/ casserole dish place the broccoli and drained pasta. Pour the cheese sauce on top and mix everything together. Sprinkle on the panko to cover the pasta. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, until the top is lightly browned.