American · Dinner · Healthy · Main Dishes · One-Pot Meals

Lighten Up: Broccoli Cheddar Shells


Don’t get me wrong, I love summer, but it’s hard to be sad that summer’s ending when Fall is about to begin. I love everything about fall; sweater weather, hearty soups, hot chocolate, the warm Fall color palette, and Thanksgiving are just a few of my autumn favorites. So even though the weather is still pretty warm here in New York and Fall doesn’t officially start until the 23rd, I’m fully ready to start celebrating it right now.

This recipe was inspired by a recipe I saw in Cooking Light Magazine. After first adapting their One-Pot Bacon Broccoli Mac and Cheese to be vegetarian friendly, and then making a few changes here and there every time I made the dish, the end result is what we have a here; a super creamy, cheesy, lightened-up, one-pot meal that reminds me of a mix between Macaroni & Cheese and Broccoli Cheddar Soup. It’s a match made in heaven.

For me, this super yummy soup-style mac and cheese is the perfect fall recipe. It’s warm, comforting, hearty, and delicious. I’m also happy to say, that this also a pretty healthy dish, using a blend of low-milk, vegetable stock and pureed butternut squash to make the thick, creamy and slightly sweet sauce. Whole wheat shells add fiber and whole grains, and fresh broccoli from the Brooklyn farmer’s market adds freshness, vitamins, and nutrients. All of this is why I call this cheesy masterpiece “Feel Good” Broccoli Cheddar Shells. This dish is nourishing, wholesome, and something you can feel good about eating and serving. So get excited for Fall and celebrate the start of the season with this simple and comforting recipe.

Whole Wheat Shells & Broccoli Cheddar Sauce
   Servings: 6   Start to Finish: 45 min.
           Calories per Serving: 400

2 teaspoon Olive Oil
3 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
1 small Yellow Onion (.3-.4 lb), peeled and diced
10oz Butternut Squash Puree*
1 cup Low-Fat Organic Milk
2 cups Vegetable Broth
10 oz. 100% Whole Wheat Shell Shaped Pasta
2 teaspoons Sea Salt (I used fine-grain)
I large head Broccoli, florets trimmed & cut into big bite size pieces
1/2 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
6 oz Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1-2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste

To Make
Add olive oil and garlic to a large sauce pan. Turn heat to medium. When garlic 
begins to sizzle, cook for 1 minute, then add diced onion. Cook onion for 3 minutes, 
stirring frequently. Add squash puree, milk, broth, and 2 teaspoons salt.. Increase 
heat to medium-high and bring to boil.

Once squash mixture comes to a boil, add pasta and 2 teaspoons salt. Stir to 
combine, reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Add broccoli 
florets, stir to combine. Continue simmering until pasta is fully cooked, about 5 

Once pasta is done, add shredded cheese and dijon mustard. Cook for an additional 
3 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

*I used Organic Frozen Butternut Squash Cubes, which I defrosted and pureed with
an emulsion blender.
**Cooking time for the pasta will vary. Whole wheat pasta typically takes longer and
because the liquid is not heated at a rolling boil over high heat, it will take longer
than what the package says. Check periodically after broccoli goes in for doneness. 
***Use the time while the squash mixture is coming to prep the broccoli and the time
while the pasta cooks to shred the cheese.

4 thoughts on “Lighten Up: Broccoli Cheddar Shells

      1. Hey there! I just wanted to let you know that I finally tried your recipe tonight, and it was just delicious and so flavorsome!!! Moreover it’s very easy to make, following your instructions, and doing the dishes is then so quick as it is almost a one pot recipe. I’ll make it again for sure, and now I’ll like Fall for sure!


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