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Spicy Mac and Three Cheeses with Broccoli

Serves 6

Broccoli and whole wheat pasta add nutrients to this vegetarian-friendly three-cheese mac ‘n cheese spiked with hot pepper.


  • 4 cups broccolini florets, chopped broccoli rabe or broccoli florets
  • Salt
  • 1 pound whole wheat penne, twists or elbows or brown rice pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 shallots, very finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small Fresno chili pepper or red cherry pepper, seeded and very finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • Pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded yellow sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup aged Gouda cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, freshly shredded
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme, finely chopped


  1. Bring a few inches of water to a boil. Salt the water and parboil the broccolini, rabe or broccoli for 4-5 minutes. Drain and cold shock, then dry on kitchen towels.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta and undercook the pasta by about 2 minutes.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 425°F.
  4. Heat a saucepot over medium heat with the EVOO and butter. Sauté the shallots, garlic and chili pepper for 2-3 minutes, then add the flour and stir for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and season the sauce with salt and pepper; melt in the cheddar and Gouda.
  5. Combine the pasta with the broccolini, rabe or broccoli and the sauce and transfer to a baking dish. Top with the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, sprinkle with fresh thyme and bake until brown and bubbly.