Like other orange vegetables, carrots are high in betacarotene, which when absorbed by the body converts to vitamin A—important to eye health. Here, shredded carrots complement this classic dish but don’t overwhelm it; you could also substitute other vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, or zucchini (just blanch with the pasta).
• 8 ounces elbow macaroni
• 2 ½ cups coarsely grated carrots
• ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
• 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1¾ cups milk, heated
• 3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
• 1 teaspoon sea salt
• ½ teaspoon powdered mustard
• ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
• ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly coat an 8 by 8-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Cook the macaroni according to the package directions until al dente (just firm). Add the carrots 3 to 4 minutes before the pasta is finished. Using a slotted spoon, skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Drain and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour until it’s completely incorporated, about 1 minute, whisking constantly. Add the milk and cook until thickened, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, whisking often.
4. Remove from the heat and add the cheddar cheese, salt, mustard, and pepper. Stir until the cheese has melted. Add the pasta mixture and stir well to combine. Transfer to the baking pan.
5. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter. In a small bowl, mix the bread crumbs with the melted butter. Stir in the Parmesan. Sprinkle on top of the macaroni mixture. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool just slightly before serving.
Serving size: 2 cups
Protein: 27 g
Fiber: 3 g
Fat: 32 g
Saturated fat: 18 g
Sodium: 1,217 mg
Vitamin A: 9,503 IU
Vitamin C: 3 mg
Vitamin D: 21 IU
Vitamin E: 1 IU
Zinc: 1 mg
Beta-carotene: 4,237 μg
Lutein and zeaxanthin: 132 μg
Credit line: Recipe from Eat Right For Your Sight: Simple Tasty Recipes That Help Reduce the Risk of Vision Loss from Macular Degeneration, BY JENNIFER TRAINER THOMPSON AND JOHANNA M. SEDDON, MD copyright © American Macular Degeneration Foundation, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.