Macaroni Cheese with Chicken, Bacon and Vegetables …

 Macaroni Cheese with Chicken, Bacon and Vegetables 001

Looking for something yummy to feed the kids?  Look no further … this recipe is definitely a winner … and wait till you taste the crunchy, cheesy bacon topping!  Most kids love pasta and cheese, it’s such a classic combination but the addition of chicken and vegetables make this a healthier option.  The thing I love most about this recipe (apart from the fact that it’s seriously delicious) is that you can add or omit any of the vegetables to suit your family’s tastebuds.  You can choose to leave out the chicken and bacon for a vegetarian option and this can also be converted to gluten-free by substituting the macaroni, breadcrumbs and flour with gluten-free alternatives … so versatile!

Macaroni Cheese with Chicken, Bacon and Vegetables …
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients ...
  • 250g macaroni (dried and uncooked)
  • 8 pieces shortcut bacon (or 4 rashers bacon), chopped
  • 5 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (I used Rice Crumbs)
  • ½ cup grated cheese
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups barbecue chicken meat (remove skin and bones and shred)
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes (cut in quarters)
  • 1 ½ cups frozen peas
  • 100g baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
  • Sauce:
  • 100g butter
  • 4 tablespoons plain flour (I used gluten free)
  • 2 cups milk (I used Light Milk)
  • 1 ½ cups grated cheese
  • 1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
Method ...
  1. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water until tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, spray a frypan with a little cooking spray. Over a medium heat, add the bacon and cook for 5 – 7 minutes or until just crispy. Add the shallots and cook for 1 minute (be careful not to overcook). Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Place the bacon mixture in a bowl and add the breadcrumbs, ½ cup grated cheese, ½ cup parmesan cheese and toss to combine. Set aside until needed.
  3. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over a gentle heat. Remove from the heat and stir in plain flour. Return pan to the heat, add the milk and whisk over a medium heat until sauce thickens. Add cheese and mustard and stir through until cheese melts.
  4. Place the cooked macaroni in a large bowl. Stir through the chicken, cherry tomatoes, frozen peas (no need to pre-cook as they will cook in the oven), baby spinach leaves and cheesy white sauce.
  5. Spoon into large baking dish or 6 individual large ramekins. Top with bacon/breadcrumb mixture and bake for 20 - 25 minutes at 180C until topping is golden brown.

 

Clever Tricks, Tips and Hints …

  • I usually always purchase shortcut bacon because the rind and fatty section has already been removed.  Although it is more expensive per kilo, I feel it’s much better value because there is less waste.
  • This meal can easily be made gluten-free.  Replace the breadcrumbs with Rice Crumbs (these can be purchased in the Health Food aisle at the supermarket and have a beautiful crunchy texture.  I now prefer Rice Crumbs to breadcrumbs).
  • If someone in your family doesn’t like the stronger flavour of parmesan cheese, it can be substituted with regular cheese.  The parmesan flavour, however, is not overwhelming.
  • Add other ingredients like corn, mushrooms, capsicum or grated carrot or zucchini.
  • This recipe is not suitable to freeze but will keep for up to 3 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator (if it lasts that long).

So tell me, do your kids love “mac and cheese” and do you think they would try a version including vegetables?

Comments

  1. My little guy would absolutely love this. He’s always asking me to make him mac and cheese for dinner. I love how you’ve made it more healthy and much more of a complete meal with the chicken and added vegetables xx

    • Hi Charlie. This would be one of the most requested meals at my place and I don’t mind because it is loaded with veggies but the cheesy bacon crust is the “star of the show” – my kids would happily eat a whole bowl of that on it’s own!

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