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Gluten-Free Hidden Veggie Mac and Cheese with Pecan Breadcrumbs

Yields1 Serving

Put a nutritious twist on a comforting classic with this crave-worthy mac and cheese featuring a veggie-infused sauce with butternut squash and cauliflower that’s topped with pecan breadcrumbs.

For the vegetables:
 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or pecan oil
 2 cups butternut squash, diced
 2 cups cauliflower florets
 ¼ tsp sea salt
 ¼ tsp black pepper
 ¼ tsp cinnamon
 ¾ cup vegetable broth
For the pasta:
 1 16-ounce package of gluten-free pasta, cooked according to package instructions
 2 cups broccoli florets, steamed (see recipe notes below)
For the creamy cheese sauce:
 1 cup lowfat milk
 ½ cup grated cheddar cheese, about 1/6 cup more for topping
 3 tbsp butter
 1 tsp Dijon mustard
For the pecan breadcrumbs:
 ½ cup raw pecan halves or pieces
 ¼ tsp cayenne (see recipe notes below)
 ¼ tsp chili powder (see recipe notes below)
 ½ tsp garlic powder (see recipe notes below)
 Pinch of fine sea salt

Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in butternut squash, cauliflower, sea salt, black pepper, and cinnamon. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until fragrant.


Pour in vegetable broth and cover the skillet. Let simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and let cool.


Blend cooked butternut squash and cauliflower from above, milk, 1/2 cup cheddar, 1/2 cup parmesan, and Dijon mustard in a high-speed blender. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Yields about four cups; you may not use all sauce (see recipe note below).


Place pasta and steamed broccoli in a large mixing bowl. Pour 1/2 cup of sauce at a time over pasta and broccoli until the pasta is well coated and saucy. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as desired.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pour pasta into a baking dish. Top with additional cheddar and parmesan cheese and bake for 15 minutes, until cheese is melted.


While the mac and cheese is baking, make the pecan breadcrumbs: Pulse pecans in a food processor until a sand-like consistency is achieved. Mix in spices and salt.


Once the mac and cheese is done, sprinkle with pecan breadcrumbs and broil on low for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Serves 4.

Recipe Notes

You can omit the cayenne, chili powder, and garlic powder in the pecan topping if desired.


The cheese sauce yields 4 cups. Reserve 1 cup (unless you like your mac and cheese very cheesy), and store the leftover in your fridge for up to one week.


Steam broccoli: Cut broccoli into 2-inch florets. In a steamer insert over a pot of boiling water, steam broccoli, covered, until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Nutrition Facts

Amount Per Serving
Calories 740
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 30g47%

Saturated Fat 11g56%
Sodium 630mg27%
Total Carbohydrate 104g35%

Dietary Fiber 8g32%
Protein 21g42%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.