Kick-Off Tomato Mac-n-Cheese

Big Traveling PotluckFrom Lisa Samuel, MBA, RDN and McKenzie Hall, RDN of Nourish RDs

Our favorite part of game day is gathering together with our friends and eating good food.  Whether or not you’re hosting your own game day party, or going to a friend’s home, make some game day food you will feel good about eating.  Your best bet: foods rich in fiber and protein (including plant-based protein), good fats, and plenty of veggies.

This year, we’re adding this Kick-Off Tomato Mac-n-Cheese to our menu.  With cauliflower, spicy peppers and canned tomatoes, it’s a great way to add vegetables to your menu without the carrot sticks.  Making it with whole wheat pasta boosts the fiber content.  The sauce gets richness and creaminess from whole milk and a little bit of cheese, but it’s not a mac-n-cheese that will weigh you down.  You’ll still have enough energy to cheer!


Kick-Off Tomato Mac-n-Cheese

 1 pound small whole wheat pasta, such as chiocciole

2 tablespoons butter

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons whole wheat flour

3 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets

1 spicy pepper (like a cayenne or jalapeno), thinly sliced

1 30-ounce can whole fire-roasted tomatoes

6 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  1. Cook the pasta 2 minutes less than the package directions. Drain.
  1. In a large pot with a heavy bottom (like enameled cast iron), melt butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds. Add the flour and whisk together with the butter to make a smooth paste. Cook the flour and butter for about 2 minutes.
  1. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking constantly to make a smooth sauce. Bring the milk mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Whisk in the salt and oregano.
  1. Add the cauliflower and spicy pepper and let the cauliflower and pepper cook for another 3 or 4 minutes, until the cauliflower just starts to become tender.

6.   Stir in the canned tomatoes, breaking up large pieces of tomatoes as you put them into the pot. Let     that mixture simmer together for a few minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheddar cheese,   stirring until the cheese is melted. Pour the cooked pasta into the sauce and turn to coat all of the pasta in the sauce.

  1. Pour the pasta mixture into a large baking pan and cover the top with the parmesan cheese. Place the pasta in the oven and bake for about 25 – 30 minutes, or until it is bubbling and top is golden brown. Let the pasta sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Serve this while you’re cheering for your favorite team!


NourishNourishRDs is a nutrition communications and consulting company founded by registered dietitians McKenzie Hall and Lisa Samuel. NourishRDs‘ (non)diet advice? Eat real food and share it with those you love! McKenzie and Lisa are nutrition spokespersons, who write, speak and present on nutrition, real foods cooking and body image. You can read their blog, and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.