Weeknight dinners always seemed rushed. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say 30 minute meals and anything done in one-pot are lifesavers, literally. So when I’m planning our meals for the week I always like to throw in a few quick & easy ones… this is one of them. My broccoli and white cheddar shells are hearty, filling and ready to go in less than 25 minutes. That’s like practically a wink of an eye. All kidding aside, I really love when I can get dinner on the table and not leave the kitchen looking like a tornado has swept through it. Anyone feel the same?
I got the idea for this dish about a year ago when we bough a box of Annie’s to make alongside some grilled chicken and salad. It used flat noodles with scalloped edges and didn’t have as large chunks of broccoli in it, but the flavor was very similar. Just recently I decided to adapt my three cheese stovetop macaroni to make this super cheesy broccoli-filled dish.
The list of ingredients is quite simple: broccoli, pasta, butter, milk, flour, seasonings and cheese. Just take care in how you prep the ingredients and follow the directions given below. In no time you’ll have a pot full of delicious pasta that your whole family is going to love.
To start, in a large dutch oven (or stock pot) boil your pasta until cooked, then drain, rinse with cold water and set aside. While your pasta is boiling you can steam your broccoli (I use these handy dandy Ziploc microwave steam bags because they’re awesome little timesavers) and then cut it up into small pieces. The size of the broccoli pieces should be the same size as your noodles. In the same dutch oven, melt your butter and then add the flour. Cook the flour until it bubbles and becomes foamy, but not to the point of browning it. Brown flour = burnt flour. Add the warmed milk (I add mine to a 2 cup glass measuring cup and microwave it for 45 seconds) and then turn the heat up and boil the mixture. It should thicken as it boils. Add the salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, onion and mustard powder. Whisk continuously to incorporate them. Turn your heat down to low and add your grated cheese. I used a Vermont white cheddar and a local (Beehive) white sharp cheddar. Whisk, whisk, whisk. Add your pasta and broccoli and using a spatula or spoon mix to combine. Remove from the heat and serve immediately!
This dish will easily serve 6 or up to 8 if you decide to grill up some chicken to serve on the side. Feel free to toss in extra broccoli if you’d like or even some bits of crispy bacon! We absolutely loved this dish- I hope you will too! Enjoy 🙂
Broccoli and White Cheddar Shells Recipe
- 1 lb mini shells or gnocchetti *
- 1 head broccoli - steamed and chopped
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk - warmed
- 1/2 tsp salt (more to taste)
- 1/2 tsp pepper (more to taste)
- 1/4 tsp paprika - heaping
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1 cup white cheddar cheese - grated
- 1 cup sharp or extra sharp white cheddar cheese - grated
- Fill a dutch oven or heavy bottom stock pot with water, bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water and transfer to a large bowl.
- In a glass measuring cup heat the 2 c. of milk for 45 seconds on HIGH in the microwave, set aside.
- Return the pot to low heat, melt the butter, then whisk in the flour. Bring the heat up to medium and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture begins to bubble (but not brown). Add 1½ c. of the warm whole milk and whisk to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, it will thicken substantially.
- Add the salt and spices, continue whisking. Turn the heat down to low and add the grated cheeses, stirring constantly until it has melted into the sauce. Stir in the remaining ½ c. of milk.
- Add the cooked pasta and steamed broccoli, stir to coat. Serve immediately.