October is National Pasta month and what better time think outside of the box and try something new. There are so many different types of pasta out there including Penne, Macaroni, Rigatoni, Ziti, Shells and More. Since pasta is such a versatile dish, you can pretty much combine a variety of flavors to make a fun, easy and delicious meal. To help you with a little inspiration, The Pasta Fits website has tons of great Pasta recipes that are quick and easy. I will also note that if your are looking for budget friendly meals this is also a great place to start as Pasta is very inexpensive. I have been experimenting with new dishes and recently tried out the Chicken Broccoli and Cheddar Mac recipe found on their site.
4 oz. elbow macaroni
2 cups/8 oz. small broccoli florets
2 Tbsp./1 oz. butter
6 Tbsp. flour
2 cups/16 oz. skim milk
4 oz. grated sharp cheddar cheese
8 oz. cooked chicken (leftover), small dice
½ cup breadcrumbs
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain and reserve.
Heat a small pan of salted water. Cook the broccoli until crisp tender (about 2 minutes). Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Chop into ½” pieces. Reserve.
Heat a large saucepan over medium low heat. Add butter and, whisking constantly, stir in the flour taking care the flour doesn’t brown. Continue to cook for 2 minutes.
Whisk in the milk. It will thicken as it gets hot. Whisk constantly; any lumps will smooth out. Cook for 5 – 7 minutes. Mixture will bubble and thicken. When it no longer changes in consistency, it’s done.
Stir in cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in pasta, broccoli and chicken. Spread into a 9” x 9” pan. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and press them into the surface. Cool completely.
The great thing about a Pasta recipe is that you can change it up however you like. If you don’t really like chicken and would rather have Shrimp you can switch it out or if you don’t want any type of protein you can skip that ingredient all together. Pasta is great to pair with fiber-filled vegetables and beans, heart healthy fish and oils, antioxidant-rich tomato sauce and protein-packed poultry and lean meats. Pasta is made up of Complex carbohydrates that provide the optimum type of “fuel” to power your muscles and brain.