Monday, June 18, 2012

Carrot Mac & Cheese

Recently I bought ten pounds of carrots. This is actually common around here. We like carrots. A lot. And not only are they cheaper when you buy them fresh and peel and cut them yourself, but they taste better and I prefer them that way. Brigham, however, was complaining that he was getting a little carrot-ed out. So to give him a break, I decided to try out a new recipe to include our carrots, but without the typical carrot crunch or flavor. Thank you Pinterest for the discovery of carrot macaroni and cheese.

I was extremely interested to try out this recipe and compare it with the butternut squash mac & cheese recipe I previously made and loved. Unfortunately, things were doomed from the start.

I was doubling the recipe and needed to peel and cut up about one and a half pounds of carrots. So I just guessed about how much that was.

Then I needed to steam them with some water, salt, and the zest and juice of one orange.

I didn't have an orange.

Instead I steamed the carrots with some orange peel zest I had as a spice and estimated about how much lemon juice would equal the juicing of an orange - a couple hefty dashes.

While the carrots were steaming (they smelled really good), I cooked up my pasta.

Only, I was dumb and forgot to save some of the water the pasta was cooked in before I drained it all down the sink. And I needed two cups! So I tried to recreate the starchy water by letting some of the pasta sit in water while the carrots finished cooking. I don't think it worked very well.

I was supposed to have the carrots cook about a half hour and then puree them. However, they probably should have cooked longer because I doubled the amount, and they weren't as soft as they were supposed to be after a half hour. But I pureed them anyways because I'm impatient like that and figured my food-processor would take care of everything for me.

Of course, though I doubled the carrots, I forgot to double the water the carrots were cooked in and were supposed to be pureed with. So it ended up being a big long hassle with me adding lots of extra water to the carrots that did not want to puree. Remember to keep your calculations correct when cooking - not only is that how you're supposed to cook, but it also makes everything easier and taste much better. Sometimes I forget this concept.

So fast forward a half hour and I was returning the pasta back to the pot with the not-so-starchy water and pureed carrots. I was to stir everything up and cook it for about five minutes until the sauce is thick and creamy.

I quickly discovered that my sauce was TOO thick because, apparently, I had way overestimated how many carrots one and a half pounds is. I ended up having to sit there and scoop out spoonful after spoonful of carrot puree from the noodles. It wasn't until I had scooped out over a cup of carrot puree, that I felt the sauce was more normal looking.

Then I added the cheese, and continued stirring.

Next came the seasonings. The recipe calls for fresh tarragon. I didn't have any tarragon. So I went online and read which herbs would be the best replacement and ended up making a mixture of basil, rosemary, and thyme.

I stirred in the seasonings, dumped it all into a baking dish, and added the remaining cheese.

Only problem, I didn't have all the remaining cheese. I ran out and my other cheese was too frozen to use. I was about a cup short. Don't I sound so prepared not having half the ingredients and running out of CHEESE for mac & CHEESE?

Like I said, it was doomed from the start.

Anyways, after baking in the oven for a bit it came out looking like this:

Not too bad.

And this is what it looked like plated up:

We always like our mac and cheese with peas :)

Honestly, it wasn't too bad. The spices were a little strong - I probably overdid my estimation of them - and I could definitely tell it needed more cheese. Besides those two things, it was pretty good. It didn't taste like carrots and it was creamy. When I asked Brigham if he liked this mac and cheese better than the butternut squash mac & cheese, he said he liked the carrot one better. I was surprised since he was so tired of carrots. I much prefer the butternut squash one.

I would be willing to try this recipe again to see what it's like if I actually cook it right. It has definite potential and I like how healthy it is for a comfort food. However, it will be awhile before I attempt it again because it was such a pain this time - even though everything that was hard was my own fault. So if you have extra carrots lying around, try it out!


  1. You are far braver than me. I don't think I'd ever try anything like this!!

    Good for you!

  2. oh wow you are super adventurous when it comes to vegetables. i dont think id ever brave it- youre such a smart mom!