A meal the whole family can agree on can be hard to come by, but this one definitely makes the cut. Better yet it’s easy to make and if you happen to already have some cooked chicken sitting in the fridge or freezer then you’ve got a meal in no time.
I made this to be much lighter than a traditional mac and cheese by using low-fat milk and no cream, using only a small amount of butter, and using reduce fat cheddar cheese. Plus, I added a bonus of a protein and veggie to make it more of a meal in one, and so there’s actually some nutrition in there. I actually prefer a mac like this vs one with all the fat because it’s not so heavy and I feel fine about eating it, I mean with 4 1/2 cups broccoli how could it be bad :)? If you insist on making this richer you could use regular fat cheddar and replace a little of the milk with cream (if doing so I’d reduce the flour by 1 Tbsp).
One more delicious, perfectly creamy and filling dish to add to the rotation. Enjoy!
Creamy Broccoli Chicken Shells and Cheese
Yield: About 5 servings
- 9 oz large shell pasta , dry (3 1/4 cups)
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts , cooked and shredded into small bites size pieces
- 12 oz broccoli florets , diced into small bite size pieces (4 1/2 cups once diced)
- 2 1/2 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups low-fat milk
- 6 oz 2% reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese , shredded (1 1/2 cups)*
- 1 oz parmesan cheese , finely shredded (1/3 cup)
Boil pasta according to directions listed on package adding broccoli during last 3 - 4 minutes of boiling, drain well (reserve 1/4 cup pasta water, just in case you want to thin pasta sauce).
Meanwhile, in a pot melt butter over medium heat then stir in flour. Cook mixture stirring constantly for 1 minute. While whisking vigorously, slowly add in milk, then season with onion powder, garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Increase heat to medium-high, cook mixture, stirring constantly until it boils and thickens. Remove from heat, allow to cool for 1 minute then add in cheddar and parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Add drained pasta and broccoli and chicken and toss to evenly coat. As it sits it will thicken, you can thin it with a few tbsp pasta water if desired.
*If you want a stronger cheddar cheese flavor use 8 oz. You can also use extra sharp cheddar.
Recipe Source: Cooking Classy