S.W. Recipe: Mackenzie’s Not-So-Bad-For-You Loaded Veggie Mac ‘n Cheese

Roughly two years ago, our friend Mackenzie Smith left S.W. Basics to pursue a full-time career in food. While we hated to see her leave, we’ve loved watching her grow her interests and talents in a full-fledged, drool-worthy business. Not only is she the head chef of (the amazing-looking) The Black Dolphin Inn in New Smyrna, Florida, her blog and Instagram – both aptly named Grilled Cheese Social – have become wildly popular sources for food inspo.


Since we have a hard time letting go around here – and you know we love food – we asked Mackenzie to begin contributing her recipes and wisdom for the S.W. Basics blog. One requirement: That the dishes be relatively healthy but utterly satisfying. Below is her first installment, featuring a healthy take on an all-time classic comfort food: Mac ‘n Cheese. Read on and be sure to share your S.W. recipes with us on Instagram using the hashtag #swrecipe.


Not-So-Bad-For-You Loaded Veggie Mac ‘n Cheese

Makes 6 servings of “I don’t feel bad about this”

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset


  • 1/2 lb pasta
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • a couple pinches of salt
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp salted butter
  • 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 vidalia onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cauliflower, chopped into small chunks
  • 1 cup butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 bunch kale, chopped into strands
  • 2 cups rosemary asiago, shredded
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat seasoned bread crumbs
  • **optional – white balsamic glaze for serving**



  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Add butternut squash cubes to a big bowl and toss with 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp olive oil, and 1/4 tsp sea salt and place on a baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes or until slightly tender and caramelized. Meanwhile, Add the cauliflower chunks to a big bowl and toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp sea salt. Pour onto a baking sheet and place in the oven for about 20 minutes on the top rack until the cauliflower starts to brown. Don’t sweat it if the cauliflower isn’t all the way tender because the whole dish is going back in the oven at the end.
  2. In a large pot, add water, 1/2 tsp salt and bring to a boil. Cook pasta according to directions and set aside once it’s al dente.
  3. In a dutch oven, add 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil and turn the heat to medium. Once the butter melts, stir to blend with the olive oil. Add your chopped onions and a pinch of salt and cook for about 10 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the shallots and another pinch of salt and cook for another few minutes until they soften as well. Then finally add the garlic, another pinch of salt, and a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook for about 5 minutes. Once everything is tender and fragrant, stir in the kale and hit it with another splash of white balsamic. Put the lid on the dutch oven and turn the heat down to medium-low; stirring occasionally until the kale has wilted.
  4. Once the butternut squash, cauliflower, and kale, and pasta are ready, add them to the dutch oven along with the shredded rosemary asiago and stir carefully so that you don’t break the shape of the pasta. Put the lid on the dutch oven and place it in a 350 degree oven until the cheese has melted.
  5. While the mac n cheese is in the oven, add your olive oil to small frying pan and turn the heat to medium. Add in the seasoned breadcrumbs and stir continuously (don’t step away!) until they begin to brown and crisp up.
  6. Remove the mac n cheese from the oven and top with the toasted whole wheat bread crumbs and serve! Drizzle with white balsamic glaze for an even more delicious dish!


Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

All images via Mackenzie Smith 

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