This super healthy and easy high protein broccoli white bean mac and cheese is full of plant based protein, iron and fiber. It’s healthy vegetarian comfort food everyone will love! Can be made gluten free.
Contrary to what the title says, there is real pasta involved in this high protein broccoli white bean mac and cheese… It isn’t white beans in place of pasta. That would be ludicrous. The white beans simple enhance the pasta. They bulk it out with a hefty dose of protein, fiber and iron so you don’t necessary haaaave to have whole grain pasta.
I know there’s whole grain pasta haters out there. My sister is one of them. Mark and I? We love both and there’s always a mixture of both in our pantry so it could really go either way whenever I go to make pasta. My unmade point, though, is that you can have your fiber and eat your white pasta, too.
So now we’re assuming the protein in this high protein broccoli white bean mac and cheese is coming from the white beans. And you would be right. BUT WAIT. What about that cheese sauce? I mean, obviously cheese has protein. You don’t need me to tell you. BUT BUT BUT I’m sure you’re guessing now that I also didn’t use cream in the sauce. Again, you would be right.
I actually took a page from my mushroom, mascarpone and spinach pasta bake and made the sauce with a mixture of milk and greek yogurt instead of mascarpone. If you used mascarpone I wouldn’t blame you and it would still be high in protein. I really just used the greek yogurt to lighten the dish up a bit since, if I’m totally honest, if it isn’t a healthy version of mac and cheese, you won’t see me making it or eating it… unless I suppose if someone I loved made it for me. Then I would because anything made with love is always appreciated.
It’s not that I think it’s bad to eat a truckload of melty cheese and cream all over my pasta… it’s that I don’t consider it to be worth it. I’d much rather just have a cheese plate with grapes and wine. THAT is worth it to me.
We all have our meals that we LOVE and are totally worth needing the nap after/feeling weighed down and generally just feed our souls. My kitchen eats, sleeps and breathes soul food in the fall and winter. Normal mac and cheese just isn’t one of them for me.
HOWEVER, I will take all the healthy high protein broccoli white bean mac and cheese. I will take it and happily eat it (and enjoy it) with a gigantic pile of sauteed veggies AND not feel like garbage afterwards.
It’s soul food meets healthy.
I like it.
Happy Friday lovelies!
- 1½ C uncooked shell or macaroni pasta
- 1 head of broccoli, chopped in to florets
- 1 15oz can white beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 TBSP butter
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 1½ TBSP flour
- 1 C 2% or whole milk
- 1¼ C shredded cheese - cheddar, havarti, fontina, mix it up!
- ½ C 2% or whole plain greek yogurt
- salt and pepper, to taste*
- Cook pasta according to package directions in salted water for al dente. For the last 5 minutes of boiling, add the broccoli florets to the water. Drain and rise the pasta/broccoli and return to pot. Add the white beans and mix well.
- Meanwhile, in a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic clove and saute for 1 minute. Add the flour and continue cooking and stirring for 2-3 minutes to remove the flour taste.Slowly whisk in the milk until smooth then bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to simmer and whisk constantly until sauce thickens, about 5-7 minutes.
- Stir in greek yogurt and cheese.
- Add salt and pepper to taste (see note).
- Stir sauce in to pasta/broccoli mixture and serve immediately.
Leftovers keep remarkably well for 3-4 days in the fridge, covered tightly.
To reheat, you can microwave it with some extra milk but I hate microwaves and we don't have one! So I put it in a pot on the stove with a bit of extra milk or water and gently reheat it that way. Works like a charm.
I used a mix of havarti and medium cheddar.
To make gluten free, use gluten free shells and an all purpose gluten free flour in place of regular.