Gooey Mac & Cheese Balls
Four different varieties of cheese – mozzarella, Swiss, Monterey Jack and Parmesan – combine to create the most indulgent-tasting mac & cheese balls you’ve ever tried.
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MAKE AHEAD: Make up to 4 hours in advance and bake right before serving; add 5 to 6 minutes baking time if baking right from refrigerator, until centers are warm and gooey.
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Don’t worry, these mac & cheese balls still have the goodness of whole-grain pasta, plus we’ve hidden butternut squash and cauliflower in the sauce for a nutrient punch. These are incredible on their own, but we suggest dipping them in the marinara sauce from our Chicken Fingers with Marinara Sauce, or our Serrano Hot Sauce.
- 1 cup peeled and cubed butternut squash (1-inch cubes)
- 1 cup medium cauliflower florets
- 13 oz whole-grain elbow macaroni
- 2 tbsp organic unsalted butter (TRY: Horizon Organic Unsalted Butter)
- 7 tbsp whole-wheat flour, divided
- 1 cup whole milk, divided
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1/2 tsp each smoked paprika and ground cayenne pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 1 3/4 cups whole-wheat panko bread crumbs
- 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add squash and cauliflower and cook until vegetables are very tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain, reserving ¼ cup cooking water in a heat- proof cup. To a food processor, add vegetables and purée; with the motor running on low speed, add cooking water. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, mist a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a large pot, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pot.
- In a medium saucepan on medium, melt butter. Whisk in 2 tbsp flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Whisk in ½ cup milk and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce has thickened slightly, about 1 minute. Stir in reserved vegetable purée, mustard, pepper and salt. Remove from heat and fold in mozzarella, Swiss and Monterey Jack cheeses. Pour sauce over pasta and stir to coat. In prepared pan, spread pasta and transfer to refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- In a shallow bowl or pie plate, combine remaining 5 tbsp flour, paprika and cayenne. In a separate shallow pan, whisk together eggs and remaining ½ cup milk. In a third shallow pan, mix panko with Parmesan.
- Arrange racks in top and bottom third of oven; preheat to 375°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a small ice cream scoop, form pasta into about 60 balls, 1½ inches each (about the size of a golf ball). Roll each ball in flour mixture, then egg mixture and then in panko, arranging balls on prepared sheets. Discard any remaining flour, egg or panko mixture. Bake on upper and lower racks for 15 to 20 minutes, switching positions halfway, until golden brown and centers are warm and gooey.
- Serving Size 2 balls
- Calories 111
- Carbohydrate Content 15 g
- Cholesterol Content 22 mg
- Fat Content 4 g
- Fiber Content 2 g
- Protein Content 5 g
- Saturated Fat Content 2 g
- Sodium Content 86 mg
- Sugar Content 1 g
- Monounsaturated Fat Content 0 g
- Polyunsaturated Fat Content 0 g