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Cheesy Mac and Trees: The Remix

Serves 4

A new take on the original crowd favorite, Cheesy Mac and Trees, Rachael shared this recipe at the 2011 South Beach Wine & Food Festival Kidz Kitchen.


  • Salt
  • 1 pound whole wheat or whole grain penne pasta
  • 2 1/2-3 cups broccolini stems or small broccoli florets (about 1 head)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large shallot or 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped or grated
  • 4-5 stems fresh thyme, leaves finely chopped
  • Black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 1 cup extra-sharp yellow cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Gruyère cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


  1. Pre-heat the broiler. 
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente, according to the package directions. When the pasta has been cooking for a couple minutes, add the broccoli to the water and finish cooking everything together, about 8 minutes more. 
  3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepot over medium heat. Add the shallot, garlic and carrot and cook for 3-4 minutes, season with salt and pepper, then add the chopped thyme and stir to combine. Whisk in the flour, let cook for 1 minute, then whisk in the milk. Bring to a bubble, then let the sauce thicken so that it coats the back of a spoon, 8-10 minutes. Season the sauce with salt, pepper and nutmeg, to taste. With a wooden spoon, stir in the cheddar and Gruyère cheeses into the sauce in a figure-eight motion until melted. 
  4. Drain the pasta and broccoli and toss with the sauce. Adjust the seasonings, to taste. Place in a large casserole dish and top with the grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, then place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown on top.