Mac Attack Series | Grown-Up Mac and Cheese

March 5, 2018 , In: Eat, Recipes , With: No Comments

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It is WEEK 5 of my Mac Attack series! And today, mac and cheese is going to get “grown-up”! So far I’ve shared a couple basic recipes, that are good starting points for most of the recipes in this series. And a couple recipes that take mac and cheese to a totally different level. Are you ready for the next installment? Here we go!

“Fettuccine Alfredo is Mac and Cheese for grownups.”

-Mitch Hedberg

I mean, could he be more right!? Most mac and cheeses are a bright yellow hue that can only be found “in nature” on a school bus. But there’s something so delicate and sexy about pasta that is covered with a creamy white sauce.

Despite simple ingredients that most kids love, why is fettuccine alfredo more of the grown-up version of mac and cheese? Fettuccine Alfredo is a dish of pasta with a simple sauce of butter, cream, and parmesan cheese. And it is on almost every Italian restaurant menu everywhere. (Even at the restaurants that I’m not sure actually qualify as real Italian…) Maybe it is grown-up because fettuccine is not as easy for kids to pick up as shaped pasta?

Keeping that in mind, I’m taking inspiration from a few places: fettuccine alfredo, “straw and hay”, springtime and keeping things fun with a shaped pasta!

Grown-Up Creamy Goodness

What the ‘hay’ is “Straw and Hay”?

Growing up, we had this Italian restaurant, Ecco, that my sister and I loved… so much, our parents would use it as a reward for a good report card! The best thing on the menu was their mussels in white wine cream sauce, and that is what we got EVERY. TIME. But the second best thing on the menu? A dish called “Straw and Hay”. It was a regular fettuccine and a spinach fettuccine combined together in a garlicky alfredo sauce with peas and ham.

To get the “Straw and Hay” look for this version, combine a 1/2 pound of spinach rotini and a 1/2 pound of regular. (If you feel like “punishing” someone, buy 2 pounds of tri-color rotini and have them separate the white and green from the red! HA!)

This makes a gorgeous dinner party meal as the main, with 2 veggie sides or as a side to salmon, tuna, or even chicken! Come back next week as the Mac Attack Series continues with a sneaky recipe to get picky eaters to eat their veggies! Butternut Mac is up next and it is picky-eater/kid approved! (Nut-free too!)

Mac Attack | Grown-Up Mac and Cheese

Mac Attack | Grown-Up Mac and Cheese


  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 4 med shallots, minced
  • 12 oz white mushrooms, lightly rinsed, patted dry, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen baby peas, thawed
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-lb pasta (I like rotini here. For more "straw and hay", use 1/2 regular and 1/2 spinach pasta)
  • 3 cups creamy cashew sauce, recipe follows
  • Optional: 1/2 finely chopped roasted unsalted cashews, 1/4 cup dry unseasoned bread crumbs.
  • Creamy Cashew Sauce
  • 1 cup unsalted raw cashews
  • 2 TBS nutritional yeast
  • 2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk (I like the taste of Almond or Cashew here)
  • salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder


    For Creamy Cashew Sauce:
  1. In a blender, process the cashews to a fine powder. Add the nutritional yeast and 1 1/2 cups of non dairy milk and blend until smooth. Season with salt and garlic powder.
  2. Transfer the sauce to a medium sauce pan and heat over medium heat. Stir consistantly until the sauce is hot. Add more non dairy milk to thin the sauce out if necessary (it will thicken more in the oven).
  3. *If not using right away, cool the sauce to room temperature, transfer to an air tight container, and refrigerate until needed. This sauce will keep for 2-3 days. Just reheat in a sauce pan over low heat until hot.
    For GrownUp Mac:
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add in the shallots and cook until soft, stirring occasionally. Next, add in the mushrooms and cook until softened. Stir in garlic and add the wine and peas cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly oil a 9x13 baking dish and set aside.
  3. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain well, return to the pot, and in the mushroom and pea mixture along with the cashew sauce. Mix gently to combine then transfer to the baking dish.
  4. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Serve and Enjoy!
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Kaiti J

Welcome to Garnished with Gratitude! I'm so glad you're here. I'm Kaiti, a fan of healthy-ish ways, lists/plans, and I'm a total goofball. I'm here to create a space that provides resources to live your best life! From food and exercise to visualization and inspiration, this site is for you.

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