This post is part of an original TIDBITS recipe, first seen HERE on tidbits-cami.com.
Whole Grain Creamy Mac and Cheese made in minutes in your handy dandy Electric Pressure Cooker (aka Instant Pot, Fagor Lux Multicooker, etc). Top it off with a pile of Parmesan and Panko Roasted Broccoli and this is a meal you can feel good about everyday of the week.
When my first born daughter was still a tiny baby, I recall preaching to my siblings that if kids are raised seeing a variety of flavors, vegetables, whole grains, etc. at the table, that they would love it all and never be picky…oh how embarrassed I am of my previous, know-it-all, self. I’m now raising 3 kiddos serving them everything from Thai food to tofu to eggplant, and they still insist that grilled cheese, mac and cheese, and chicken nuggets should be on the menu every night. To which I selfishly say, “This is what’s for dinner, if you don’t like it, don’t eat it.” Mean? Maybe. But with a list a mile long of foods I want to make, their favorites make very few appearances. One day they’ll know how lucky they are…right?
Well in the mean time I’ve discovered a Mac and Cheese recipe that will keep us all happy. Welcome to The Best (yep, I’m goin’ there) Electric Pressure Cooker Mac and Cheese ever! Let me tell you why it gets the title of “The Best”.
First of all, Whole Grain Tinkyada Brown Rice Elbow Pasta! (affiliate links) Seriously, this is my favorite whole grain pasta brand out there and I’ve served this dish to a room of 200, many of which insisted on knowing the name of this glorious noodle! I’ve ordered it from Amazon, Vitacost, and am also seeing it pop up at my local grocery stores. If you can’t find it, you can easily swap it out for your favorite pasta and adjust the cooking time, which I’ll explain in the recipe below.
To secure it’s title of “The Best”, this Mac and Cheese also meets all the major criteria of tasting rich, cheesy, and creamy, without breaking the calorie bank. It took some serious research to figure this one out, but it just had to be done. Because if I’m gonna have mac and cheese, it’s not gonna be a child size serving of it. Here’s how I met those essential Rich, Cheesy, and Creamy standards.
Rich: Unfortunately, skim milk curdles under high heat…or does it. With a little research I discovered that adding cornstarch will stabilize the milk and prevent it from separating. Which means heavy cream can successfully be swapped for skim milk!
Cheesy: In the food world, few things are more disappointing than a flavorless mac. I needed all that good cheesy flavor without 6 pounds of cheese. Enter a flavor explosion from the spice cupboard and EXTRA SHARP cheddar cheese. YES!
Creamy: This one was easy. Have you discovered the melty wonders of quesadilla cheese yet? You need to. Check your cheese section for Cacique Queso Quesadilla cheese or Supremo Queso Chihuahua cheese. Your quesadilla and grilled cheese game will be of epic status and your Mac and Cheese? It’ll make your steamy, dreamy, creamy wishes come true.
Crunchy: Okay, we musn’t forget this category. I love a buttery, crunchy topping with my mac and cheese. And yes, we’re even gonna make that a nutritious bomb in the form of Panko Parmesan Roasted Broccoli. Which as my kids will tell you (with scrunched up noses) is mama’s favorite dessert!
Now tell me, does that not deserve the title of The Best!? And oh yeah, with the magic of the pressure cooker it’s also fast, clean, and easy.
This recipe can also be found in our book, Master the Electric Pressure Cooker ,which I’m enormously proud of and personally cook from often. I even printed off a copy of it so that I could have it ready to go in my kitchen at all times. By the way, this mac and cheese has a Mean Green Mac and Cheese cousin in this book that is dynamite!
With less than 30 minutes from start to finish, I predict this Healthy Whole Grain Mac and Cheese and Roasted Broccoli is going to make many appearances at your table.
- For the Mac and Cheese:
- 1 pound of uncooked whole wheat macaroni (like Tinkyada Brown Rice pasta)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne (omit if you don't want the heat)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 ½ cups water
- 3 cups skim milk, divided
- 2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup quesadilla cheese (like Cacique Queso Quesadilla cheese or Supremo Queso Chihuahua cheese, can substitute with Monterey Jack)
- For the Roasted Panko Parmesan Broccoli:
- 4 cups broccoli florets
- Olive oil to lightly coat
- ¼ cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon dry italian seasoning
- Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 425º F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Place broccoli florets in a gallon size resealable bag, drizzle with olive oil, shake to coat. Add panko bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning; shake to coat. There will be loose crumbs in the bag, which will be sprinkled on top of the finished mac and cheese.
- Dump broccoli and crumbs onto the prepared baking sheet. Season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 10-15 minutes, watching closely so the crumbs don’t burn.
- While broccoli is roasting, add the macaroni, butter, salt, dry mustard, cayenne, garlic powder, cornstarch, 2 ½ cups of water, and only 2 cups of milk to the pressure cooker pot. Stir well, to incorporate cornstarch.
- Secure the lid and turn pressure release knob to a sealed position. Cook at high pressure for half of the pasta package cooking time minus 1 minute. (For example, if cook time is 16 minutes, cook for 7 minutes. If it says 12-13, cook for 6).
- When cooking is complete, use a quick release. If liquid sprays from valve, close valve, wait 30-60 seconds and try again. If pasta isn’t done, use sauté function to cook with the lid off for 2-3 more minutes.
- Select sauté function, add ½ cup of milk (adding another ½ cup, if needed), cheddar, and Quesadilla cheese; stir until melted and creamy.
- Serve immediately, topped with the roasted broccoli and extra crumbs.