Cheesy Pasta with Peas

Jun 9, 2019 | Dinner, Kid Approved

Talya refuses to eat boxed macaroni and cheese. She’s only two. Yet, that neon-orange color, and not exactly cheese flavor, don’t fool her. She presses the pasta to her lips, gives her head a violent shake, and pushes the plate away. Most moms might think it takes too much time to make a cheese sauce from scratch. But the reality is, it only takes four ingredients (compared to three with boxed macaroni and cheese). My version adds one additional ingredient, pureed carrots, and is just as simple to make.

Pureed carrots give this dish that nice bright orange color. Not only does it perfectly capture the color that kids know and love, but it adds great flavor, and nutrients. As funny as it might sound, the best way to a perfect carrot puree is to buy a jar of organic carrot baby food. The key to success for manufacturers is consistency. They buy carrots at the peak of freshness, and sweetness. That way, each jar tastes exactly the same. Perfectly sweet. What can be easier than opening a jar?

I promise you. This sauce tastes utterly delicious. In fact, the only problem you might have is that your kids won’t want to eat any other version of cheesy pasta, again.

I make this dish with spaghetti, because Talya prefers the long strands over elbow macaroni. But you can make it with any pasta you like. She also prefers her cheesy pasta plain, peas on the side…thank you very much! For a grown-up version, I suggest stirring in peas and topping it with a few crispy bits of prosciutto. 


Cheesy Pasta with Peas

Serves 3

6 ounces pasta

1 ½ tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

¾ cup whole milk

¼ cup (2 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon, carrot puree

¾ cup (3 ounces) sharp white cheddar, grated

¼ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup frozen peas, thawed

2 slices prosciutto (optional)


If making the crispy prosciutto chips to garnish, preheat the oven to 350. Place the prosciutto on a rimmed baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. Cook the prosciutto for 15 minutes, until fragrant and crispy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. The chips can be made a day in advance and stored at room temperature.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. While the pasta cooks, grate the cheese.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and set aside.

To make the sauce, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour and continue to whisk until smooth and slightly bubbly. Slowly pour in the milk and the carrot puree. Cook until slightly bubbly. Stir in the cheese. Continue to cook over medium-low heat. Cooking on too high a heat could cause the sauce to curdle. Using a spatula, continue to cook until the cheese has melted, and the sauce has thickened slightly. Once the sauce is thick enough to hold a line drawn with your finger, it’s done.


Stir in the salt. Add the pasta and peas. If garnishing with prosciutto chips, break the chips into small pieces and sprinkle them on top. Serve immediately.

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