Basil And Avocado Mac & Cheese Recipe

There's something about the creaminess and richness of macaroni and cheese that makes it a favorite dish for many. Adding basil and avocado to the traditional recipe gives it a refreshing twist. The basil adds a subtle sweetness and color, while the avocado provides a creamy and healthy fat that makes this dish even more indulgent. The addition of two types of cheese adds a depth of flavor that complements the other ingredients perfectly.

Basil And Avocado Mac & Cheese Recipe
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Most of the ingredients for this recipe are quite common. However, fresh basil may not be readily available in every home. It's usually found in the produce section of supermarkets or in farmers markets. It is also possible to grow your own basil at home. Fresh basil has a sweet, minty flavor that is more vibrant than dried basil. Similarly, Colby Jack cheese might not be a common ingredient in all kitchens. It is a blend of Colby and Monterey Jack cheeses and has a mild and creamy flavor. It can be found in the cheese section of most supermarkets.

Basil and Avocado Macaroni Cheese Ingredients

Fresh basil leaves: These add a sweet, slightly minty flavor that pairs well with other ingredients.

Avocado: Adds creaminess to the dish and is a great source of healthy fats.

Garlic: Gives the dish a slight kick and brings out the flavors of all other ingredients.

Whole wheat pasta: A healthier alternative to regular pasta, but the latter can be used if preferred.

Unsalted butter: Used to make the roux which thickens the sauce.

All-purpose flour: Works with the butter to make the roux.

Whole milk: Adds creaminess to the sauce.

Nutmeg: A warm spice that enhances the flavor of the cheese sauce.

Paprika: Gives a slight heat to the dish.

Cheddar cheese: Has a strong flavor that adds depth to the sauce.

Colby Jack cheese: A milder cheese that balances out the cheddar.

Fresh parsley: Used for garnish and adds a fresh flavor to the dish.

One reader, Dodie Alicea says:

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This basil and avocado macaroni and cheese recipe is a game-changer! The creamy avocado and fresh basil add a unique twist to the classic mac and cheese. It's a burst of flavors that's both comforting and refreshing. I highly recommend trying this recipe for a delightful and satisfying meal.

Dodie Alicea

Key Techniques for Preparing Basil and Avocado Macaroni and Cheese

Prepare the basil and avocado puree: In a food processor or blender, pulse together the basil, avocado, and garlic until a smooth paste forms.

Cook the pasta: In a large pot of salted boiling water, add the pasta and cook 1 to 2 minutes shy of the directed cooking time on the box. Save ½ cup of pasta water and drain the pasta when it's done cooking.

Make the roux: Melt the butter in a pan on medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted, add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens into a paste, around 2 to 3 minutes.

Prepare the cheese sauce: Pour in all of the milk at once, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula for about 5 to 6 minutes. Once the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, turn the heat off and season with nutmeg, paprika, salt, and pepper to taste. Add the cheddar and colby jack cheese then stir to combine the cheese with the sauce.

Combine the ingredients: Add the basil and avocado puree, pasta, and pasta water to the cheese sauce. Stir until everything is thoroughly combined, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish and serve: Garnish with parsley, basil, and breadcrumbs, then serve and enjoy!

How To Make Basil And Avocado Mac & Cheese

Our mac & cheese recipe comes with a unique twist of avocadoes! It’s a creamier dish from the original, and perfect for big dinners with friends.

Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes

Serves:

Ingredients

  • 1cupfresh basil leavestrimmed
  • 1medium avocado
  • 1garlicminced
  • salt and pepperto taste
  • 1packagewhole wheat pasta
  • 4tbspunsalted butter
  • 4tbspall purpose flour
  • 2 ½cupswhole milk
  • 1pinchnutmeg
  • 1pinchpaprika
  • 1cupcheddar cheesemedium, hand-grated
  • 1cupcolby jack cheesehand-grated
  • fresh parsley, and basil and breadcrumbs, to garnish

Instructions

  1. In a food processor or blender, pulse together the basil, avocado, and garlic until a smooth paste forms.

  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

  3. In a large pot of salted boiling water, add the pasta and cook 1 to 2 minutes shy of the directed cooking time on the box.

  4. Save ½ cup of pasta water and drain the pasta when it’s done cooking.

  5. To make the roux, melt the butter In a pan on medium-high heat.

  6. Once the butter is melted, add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens into a paste, around 2 to 3 minutes.

  7. When thickened, pour in all of the milk at once, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula for about 5 to 6 minutes.

  8. Once the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, turn the heat off and season with nutmeg, paprika, salt, and pepper to taste.

  9. Add the cheddar and colby jack cheese then stir to combine the cheese with the sauce.

  10. When combined, add the basil and avocado puree, pasta, and pasta water.

  11. Stir until everything is thoroughly combined, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

  12. Garnish with parsley, basil, and breadcrumbs, serve, and enjoy!

Nutrition

  • Calories: 660.31kcal
  • Fat: 48.89g
  • Saturated Fat: 26.04g
  • Trans Fat: 0.85g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 15.78g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.73g
  • Carbohydrates: 31.15g
  • Fiber: 4.26g
  • Sugar: 13.07g
  • Protein: 27.13g
  • Cholesterol: 119.94mg
  • Sodium: 943.66mg
  • Calcium: 770.37mg
  • Potassium: 738.93mg
  • Iron: 1.91mg
  • Vitamin A: 420.70µg
  • Vitamin C: 13.31mg

Crucial Technique for Perfecting This Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

When making the roux for your macaroni and cheese, it's crucial to whisk the flour and melted butter constantly to prevent lumps. This mixture should be smooth before adding the milk. Also, adding the milk all at once, rather than gradually, helps to keep the roux smooth and prevents it from becoming too thick too quickly. Remember to keep stirring the sauce until it's thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. This ensures a creamy and velvety texture for your cheese sauce.

Time-Saving Tips for Making This Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

Prep ahead: Chop and measure ingredients in advance to streamline the cooking process.

One-pot wonder: Opt for a one-pot method to minimize cleanup and save time.

Multitask: While the pasta is cooking, work on preparing the sauce to maximize efficiency.

Quick blend: Use a high-powered blender for a faster and smoother basil and avocado puree.

Ready-made shortcuts: Consider using pre-shredded cheese and pre-washed basil to cut down on prep time.

Efficient organization: Arrange all ingredients and utensils in an organized manner before starting to cook for a smoother process.

Time-saving tools: Utilize kitchen gadgets like food processors and immersion blenders for quicker prep and cooking.

Substitute Ingredients For Basil And Avocado Mac & Cheese Recipe

  • fresh basil leaves - Substitute with fresh mint leaves: Mint has a similar fresh and aromatic flavor that can complement the dish well.

  • avocado - Substitute with cooked green peas: Cooked green peas can add a creamy texture and a touch of sweetness to the dish, similar to avocado.

  • whole wheat pasta - Substitute with gluten-free pasta: For a gluten-free option, you can use gluten-free pasta to accommodate dietary restrictions.

  • unsalted butter - Substitute with olive oil: Olive oil can provide a healthier alternative and add a subtle fruity flavor to the dish.

  • all purpose flour - Substitute with gluten-free flour: To make the dish gluten-free, you can use a gluten-free flour blend as a substitute.

  • whole milk - Substitute with unsweetened almond milk: For a dairy-free option, unsweetened almond milk can be used to achieve a creamy consistency.

  • cheddar cheese - Substitute with gouda cheese: Gouda cheese can provide a rich and creamy flavor similar to cheddar, adding a unique twist to the dish.

  • colby jack cheese - Substitute with mozzarella cheese: Mozzarella cheese can offer a mild and creamy flavor, complementing the dish as a substitute for colby jack.

  • fresh parsley - Substitute with fresh cilantro: Fresh cilantro can provide a vibrant and fresh herb flavor, adding a unique twist to the dish.

Presentation Ideas for Basil and Avocado Macaroni and Cheese

  1. Elevate the plating: When presenting the dish, focus on creating a visually appealing plate. Use fresh basil leaves and avocado slices to add vibrant green hues, and consider incorporating a sprinkle of paprika for a pop of color.

  2. Incorporate texture: Introduce a contrast in textures to the dish by adding a sprinkle of breadcrumbs for a delightful crunch. This will add depth to the overall experience of the macaroni and cheese.

  3. Emphasize precision: Pay attention to the placement of each component on the plate. Arrange the pasta in a neat pile and delicately place a few fresh parsley leaves on top for a touch of elegance.

  4. Utilize negative space: Allow the dish to breathe by leaving some areas of the plate uncovered. This will draw attention to the vibrant colors and textures of the macaroni and cheese, creating a visually striking presentation.

  5. Consider the vessel: Choose a ceramic plate or a shallow bowl to showcase the macaroni and cheese. The choice of vessel can enhance the overall presentation and elevate the dining experience.

Essential Kitchen Tools for Making This Recipe

  • Food processor: A food processor is used to blend and puree ingredients, such as the basil, avocado, and garlic, into a smooth paste for the macaroni and cheese recipe.
  • Blender: A blender can also be used to puree the basil, avocado, and garlic into a smooth paste if a food processor is not available.
  • Large pot: A large pot is essential for boiling the pasta, allowing enough space for the pasta to cook evenly.
  • Pan: A pan is used to make the roux for the cheese sauce, combining the butter and flour to create a thickening agent for the sauce.
  • Wooden spoon or spatula: A wooden spoon or spatula is used to stir the milk and flour mixture constantly, ensuring a smooth and creamy cheese sauce.
  • Whisk: A whisk is used to combine the butter and flour for the roux, ensuring a smooth and lump-free texture.
  • Colander: A colander is used to drain the cooked pasta, removing excess water before adding it to the cheese sauce.
  • Grater: A grater is used to grate the cheddar and colby jack cheese, providing a smooth and even melt into the cheese sauce.
  • Oven-safe dish: An oven-safe dish may be used to bake the macaroni and cheese, if desired, to create a crispy breadcrumb topping.
  • Baking sheet: A baking sheet may be used to toast breadcrumbs, if desired, for a crispy topping on the macaroni and cheese.

Storing and Freezing Leftover Basil Avocado Mac and Cheese

  • To store leftover basil and avocado macaroni and cheese, allow it to cool completely to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3-4 days.
  • When reheating, add a splash of milk or water to help loosen the sauce and prevent it from drying out. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through.
  • To freeze, portion the cooled macaroni and cheese into freezer-safe containers or resealable bags. Remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Label and date the containers before placing them in the freezer.
  • Frozen macaroni and cheese can be stored for up to 2-3 months. To reheat, thaw the frozen portions in the refrigerator overnight.
  • For best results, reheat thawed macaroni and cheese in a saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally and adding a splash of milk or water to help reconstitute the sauce. Alternatively, you can reheat it in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds to ensure even heating.
  • Keep in mind that the texture of the pasta and sauce may change slightly after freezing and reheating, but the flavor should remain delicious.

Reheating Leftover Macaroni and Cheese

  • Stovetop method: transfer the leftover macaroni and cheese to a saucepan and add a splash of milk or cream to help loosen the sauce. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the pasta is heated through and the sauce is creamy. If the sauce becomes too thick, add more milk or cream as needed.

  • Oven method: preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Transfer the leftover macaroni and cheese to an oven-safe dish and add a splash of milk or cream. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pasta is heated through and the sauce is bubbly. Remove the foil for the last 5 minutes of baking to allow the top to brown slightly.

  • Microwave method: transfer the leftover macaroni and cheese to a microwave-safe bowl and add a splash of milk or cream. Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe lid or plastic wrap, leaving a small vent for steam to escape. Microwave on high power in 30-second intervals, stirring between each interval, until the pasta is heated through and the sauce is creamy.

  • Slow cooker method: transfer the leftover macaroni and cheese to a slow cooker and add a splash of milk or cream. Cover and cook on low heat for 1-2 hours, or until the pasta is heated through and the sauce is creamy. Stir occasionally to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the slow cooker.

  • Regardless of the reheating method, be sure to taste the macaroni and cheese and adjust the seasoning as needed. The basil and avocado flavors may have mellowed during storage, so you may need to add a pinch of salt, pepper, or additional fresh basil to brighten the flavors.

Interesting Trivia About Basil and Avocado Macaroni and Cheese

Basil and avocado are not only delicious but also packed with nutrients. Basil is a great source of vitamin K, iron, and calcium, while avocados are rich in healthy fats and fiber. This macaroni and cheese recipe not only provides a comforting and indulgent meal but also offers a nutritional boost from these ingredients.

Budget-Friendly: Making Basil and Avocado Mac and Cheese at Home

The cost-effectiveness of this basil and avocado macaroni and cheese recipe largely depends on the availability and cost of fresh basil, avocado, and cheese. While these ingredients can be pricier, the recipe's use of pantry staples like flour, milk, and pasta helps balance the overall cost. The addition of nutrient-rich avocado and fresh basil adds value. Rating: 8/10. Approximate cost: $15-20.

Is This Macaroni and Cheese Recipe Healthy?

This basil and avocado macaroni and cheese recipe has some healthy elements, but it also contains ingredients that may not be considered nutritious. Let's break it down:

Healthy aspects:

  • The recipe uses whole wheat pasta, which is a good source of fiber and nutrients compared to regular pasta
  • Avocado provides healthy fats, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals
  • Basil is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties
  • Garlic offers potential health benefits, such as boosting the immune system

Less healthy aspects:

  • The recipe calls for a significant amount of cheese, which is high in saturated fat and sodium
  • Butter and whole milk are used to make the roux and sauce, adding more saturated fat to the dish
  • All-purpose flour is refined and lacks the nutritional benefits of whole grain flours

To make this recipe healthier, consider the following suggestions:

  • Reduce the amount of cheese used or opt for low-fat cheese varieties
  • Replace some of the cheese with nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor with less fat and more nutrients
  • Use olive oil instead of butter to make the roux
  • Swap whole milk with a plant-based milk, such as unsweetened almond or cashew milk
  • Incorporate more vegetables into the dish, such as sautéed spinach, cherry tomatoes, or roasted bell peppers
  • Use whole grain flour or a gluten-free alternative, like chickpea flour, to make the roux
  • Reduce the portion size and serve the mac and cheese alongside a fresh, colorful salad to balance the meal

Editor's Opinion on This Unique Macaroni and Cheese Dish

The combination of fresh basil and creamy avocado in this macaroni and cheese recipe adds a delightful twist to a classic dish. The use of whole wheat pasta and the addition of nutmeg and paprika bring depth and complexity to the flavors. The creamy, cheesy sauce with a hint of herbaceousness from the basil and richness from the avocado creates a harmonious balance. The dish is not only delicious but also offers a healthier alternative to traditional macaroni and cheese. It's a perfect way to elevate a comfort food favorite with a touch of elegance and creativity.

Enhance Your Basil And Avocado Mac & Cheese Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Garlic Bread: Create a delicious garlic bread by mixing butter, garlic, and parsley, then spreading it on a baguette and toasting until golden brown.
Roasted Vegetables: Toss a variety of colorful vegetables in olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roast in the oven until caramelized and tender.
Fruit Salad: Combine a mix of fresh fruits such as berries, melon, and citrus, then drizzle with a honey-lime dressing for a refreshing side dish.
Creamy Coleslaw: Mix shredded cabbage, carrots, and a creamy dressing for a classic coleslaw that pairs perfectly with the creamy macaroni and cheese.

Similar Recipes to Try If You Love This Dish

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup: This creamy tomato basil soup is a comforting and flavorful dish that is perfect for a cozy night in. The combination of ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, and creamy texture will leave you wanting more.
Avocado and Shrimp Salad: This refreshing avocado and shrimp salad is a light and satisfying dish that is perfect for a healthy lunch or dinner. The creamy avocado pairs perfectly with the juicy shrimp and fresh vegetables, creating a delicious and nutritious meal.
Lemon Garlic Roasted Chicken: This lemon garlic roasted chicken is a savory and aromatic dish that is sure to impress your family and friends. The combination of zesty lemon, pungent garlic, and tender roasted chicken creates a mouthwatering meal that is perfect for any occasion.

Perfect Appetizers and Desserts to Serve with Basil Avocado Mac and Cheese

Appetizers:
Stuffed Mushrooms: Create a savory and indulgent appetizer by stuffing mushrooms with a flavorful mixture of cheese, herbs, and breadcrumbs. Bake until golden and crispy for a delicious bite-sized treat.
Caprese Skewers: Assemble skewers of fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and basil leaves for a refreshing and light appetizer. Drizzle with balsamic glaze for an extra burst of flavor.
Desserts:
Chocolate Mousse: Indulge in a rich and velvety chocolate mousse, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder. The smooth and decadent texture of this dessert will satisfy any chocolate lover's cravings.
Strawberry Cheesecake: Delight in a creamy and luscious strawberry cheesecake, adorned with fresh strawberry slices and a drizzle of strawberry sauce. The combination of tangy cream cheese and sweet strawberries creates a harmonious and delightful dessert experience.

Why trust this Basil And Avocado Mac & Cheese Recipe:

This recipe offers a unique twist on traditional macaroni and cheese, incorporating fresh basil and creamy avocado for a flavorful and nutritious dish. The combination of whole wheat pasta and a homemade creamy sauce using whole milk and a blend of cheddar and colby jack cheese ensures a satisfying and wholesome meal. The use of fresh herbs like parsley and basil adds a burst of freshness, while the addition of nutmeg and paprika brings depth of flavor. Trust in the quality and creativity of this recipe for a delightful dining experience.

Want to share your own twist on this Basil And Avocado Mac & Cheese Recipe? Head over to the Recipe Sharing section of our forum and let us know how you'd make it your own!
FAQ:
Can I use regular pasta instead of whole wheat pasta?
Yes, you can use regular pasta if you prefer. Whole wheat pasta adds a nutty flavor and extra fiber, but regular pasta will work just fine in this recipe.
Can I use dried basil instead of fresh basil?
While fresh basil provides a more vibrant flavor, you can use dried basil if that's what you have on hand. Just use about 1/3 of the amount of dried basil compared to fresh.
Can I make this recipe ahead of time?
Yes, you can prepare the macaroni and cheese ahead of time and reheat it when you're ready to serve. Just store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Can I substitute the colby jack cheese with another type of cheese?
Absolutely! Feel free to experiment with different cheeses. Gouda, mozzarella, or Monterey Jack would all work well as substitutes for the colby jack cheese.
Can I omit the nutmeg and paprika?
Yes, you can omit the nutmeg and paprika if you prefer. They add a subtle depth of flavor, but the dish will still be delicious without them.

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