Gluten-Free Hidden Veggie Mac and Cheese with Pecan Breadcrumbs

By: Lexi Davidson, Lexi's Clean Kitchen

Serving Size: 4

Cook Time: 10 mins Prep
30 mins Cooking

Put a nutritious twist on a comforting classic with this crave-worthy mac and cheese featuring a veggie-infused sauce with butternut squash and cauliflower that’s topped with pecan breadcrumbs.


For the vegetables:

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or pecan oil

2 cups butternut squash, diced

2 cups cauliflower florets

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup vegetable broth

For the pasta:

1 16-ounce package of gluten-free pasta, cooked according to package instructions

2 cups broccoli florets, steamed (see recipe notes below)

For the creamy cheese sauce:

1 cup lowfat milk

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, about 1/6 cup more for topping

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, about 1/6 cup more for topping

3 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

For the pecan breadcrumbs:

1/2 cup raw pecan pieces

1/4 teaspoon cayenne (see recipe notes below)

1/4 teaspoon chili powder (see recipe notes below)

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (see recipe notes below)

Pinch of fine sea salt


  1. Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in butternut squash, cauliflower, sea salt, black pepper, and cinnamon. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until fragrant.
  2. Pour in vegetable broth and cover the skillet. Let simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. Blend cooked butternut squash and cauliflower from above, milk, 1/2 cup cheddar, 1/2 cup parmesan, and Dijon mustard in a high-speed blender. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Yields about four cups; you may not use all sauce (see recipe note below).
  4. Place pasta and steamed broccoli in a large mixing bowl. Pour 1/2 cup of sauce at a time over pasta and broccoli until the pasta is well coated and saucy. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as desired.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pour pasta into a baking dish. Top with additional cheddar and parmesan cheese and bake for 15 minutes, until cheese is melted.
  6. While the mac and cheese is baking, make the pecan breadcrumbs: Pulse pecans in a food processor until a sand-like consistency is achieved. Mix in spices and salt.
  7. Once the mac and cheese is done, sprinkle with pecan breadcrumbs and broil on low for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Serves 4.

Recipe Notes

  1. You can omit the cayenne, chili powder, and garlic powder in the pecan topping if desired.
  2. The cheese sauce yields 4 cups. Reserve 1 cup (unless you like your mac and cheese very cheesy), and store the leftover in your fridge for up to one week.
  3. Steam broccoli: Cut broccoli into 2-inch florets. In a steamer insert over a pot of boiling water, steam broccoli, covered, until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Nutritional Facts:





Saturated Fat