Macaroni and Cheese with Zucchini

This macaroni and cheese with zucchini is so rich and creamy with three (!) types of cheese and brown butter bread crumbs. So indulgent you won’t even notice the healthy zucchini snuck into the mix.

If you’re feeling slightly skeptical about macaroni and cheese with zucchini, fear not. The flecks of suspiciously healthy green lend just the right amount of intrigue to the rich cheese sauce, and everyone will be too busy cramming their faces with this creamy stovetop classic and its remarkable topping of bread crumbs crisped in brown butter to even notice any vegetables present.–Molly Krebs

Macaroni and Cheese with Zucchini

A hand using a wooden spoon to lift a scoop of macaroni and cheese with zucchini out of a cast iron pot.
This macaroni and cheese with zucchini is so rich and creamy with three (!) types of cheese and brown butter bread crumbs. So indulgent you won’t even notice the healthy zucchini snuck into the mix.
Molly Krebs

Prep 45 mins
Total 1 hr 15 mins
Sides
American
No ratings yet
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Ingredients 

For the brown butter bread crumbs

  • 4 tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

For the zucchini mac and cheese

  • 2 3/4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 pound elbow pasta
  • 5 tablespoons (2 1/2 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 medium (about 1 lb 6 oz) zucchini unpeeled and grated
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 8 ounces grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 6 ounces grated fontina cheese
  • 4 ounces grated Gouda cheese

Directions
 

Make the brown butter bread crumbs

  • In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and whisk almost constantly, watching carefully to prevent burning, until the butter is brown and becomes nutty and fragrant, 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Add the bread crumbs and salt to the browned butter and stir to combine. Cook, stirring as needed, until the bread crumbs are crisp and golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Immediately transfer the bread crumbs to a plate.

Make the mac and cheese

  • Bring a large pot of water and 2 teaspoons salt to a boil over high heat.
  • Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 8 to 9 minutes.
  • While the pasta is cooking, in a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Add the zucchini and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the zucchini and sauté, stirring frequently, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with black pepper.
  • Switch to a whisk and sprinkle in the flour. Cook, still whisking constantly, for 1 minute.
  • Still whisking, gradually add the milk and increase the heat to high. Continue to whisk until the milk comes to a brisk simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, and maintain a simmer until the sauce thickens, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Add the mustard, nutmeg, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper and whisk to combine.
  • Gradually add the Cheddar, fontina, and Gouda cheeses in handfuls, stirring well after each addition, and cook until the cheese has completely melted, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper.
  • Drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the cheese sauce and stir to coat the pasta thoroughly. Mix in half the bread crumbs and stir to combine.
  • Sprinkle with the remaining bread crumbs and serve immediately.
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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I was very happy about how creamy this dish was after the zucchini cooked down! It’s a very rainy day, and I wanted to elevate my usual frozen veggies with blue box. This was perfect comfort food (even though I skipped the crumb topping).

    1. Thanks, Eli! We’re delighted that you enjoyed it so much. Can’t wait to hear what you try next.

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