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This is another lovely springtime pasta, this time using in-season carrots. They do double duty: cutting down on the fat and calories of traditional mac n cheese as well as adding healthy vitamins and nutrients. I roasted them as I did in my Roasted Carrot Soup and used smoked cheddar and fontina, which allows you to use less and still get a rich, deep flavor. I think both little and big kids will eat their veggies tonight!
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Servings: 6 as a side; 4 as a main
Time: About 20 minutes active; 70 minutes total
1 pound carrots, cut into 1-2" pieces
1 tablespoon butter (I used plant-based)
1 tablespoon honey
1 medium orange, zested then juiced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, plus more for seasoning pasta water
8 ounces short pasta, like penne or fusilli
2 ounces fontina, grated
2 ounces smoked cheddar, grated
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a casserole dish, toss carrots with butter, honey, zest, juice, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. Roast 30 minutes, turning carrots every 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Lower heat to 350 degrees and save the roasting pan.
3. Meanwhile, cook pasta to al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain and reserve 1 cup pasta water.
4. Puree carrots in a food processor. Add carrots with cooked pasta back to pot. Add pasta water, all the fontina and half the cheddar. Cook over medium-low heat until cheese is melted and everything is incorporated.
5. Spray carrot-roasting pan with cooking spray. Spoon carrot-pasta-cheese mixture in pan and smooth out evenly. Sprinkle remaining cheddar on top. Cook 20 minutes until all cheese is melted. Serve hot.
Writer Bio: Adrienne D. Capps loves food AND is a vegetarian! These things are not mutually exclusive in her world. She is passionate about eating, drinking, cooking, teaching, reading about food and growing food. Her goal with her food blog, Vegetarianized.com, is to open up the world of vegetarian cooking and eating to the veg-friendly and the veg-curious in an accessible way. She promises never to try to convert or make you feel guilty—just that eating less meat can be part of a healthy, fun and, above all, tasty lifestyle.