Main Course/ Pasta/ Recipes/ Vegetarian

Whole Wheat Shells and Cheese with Broccoli

Good morning!

Today I bring you the epitome of comfort food — macaroni and cheese. 🙂 Macaroni and cheese is Grayson’s favorite lunch and I always either mix chopped broccoli or peas and carrots into ours to up the nutritional value. This is definitely a “rustic” version of the classic favorite (it’s not my most photogenic recipe, to be honest) but it is as every bit as delicious. There’s just something about homemade shells and cheese…the nutty smelling roux, the homemade cheese sauce, the crunchy topping…seriously I am drooling again just thinking about it and it’s first thing in the morning here. 

This is also a great freezer meal! Oh man, I LIVED for freezer meals after both my boys were born. Seriously, the smartest thing I ever did was stock my freezer during that final month of pregnancy. I think, with both, I had enough in my freezer for at least a month postpartum and between those meals and meals cooked for us from my friends at the local moms club I’m a part of, I was in business. Anyway, I digress. What I’m trying to say is you should make this today and put half in the freezer for a rainy day. You will thank me later.

Aren’t my new table linens pretty?! I’m doing some work with StudioPatro this season and excited to be showcasing some of Christina’s gorgeous textiles. They are a small business local to me and I can’t get enough of their pretty napkins and dish towels. You guys probably remember me talking about them on Instagram Stories a few weeks ago.  We’ve always loved the look of cloth napkins over here and these just make the table look so pretty, don’t you think?

I hope you guys make this soon and love it as much as we did. Growing up, shells and cheese (velveeta – duh!) were always my very, very favorite so I still have a soft spot for them today. The feta adds a new dimension to the classic dish and the broccoli just adds a little splash of color. 😉 When I made this, I really did divide it into two casserole dishes and freeze half for later. Come to think about it, I might just defrost that tonight for us. To cook from frozen, just place in a 325 preheated oven for about an hour till hot and bubbly.



Whole Wheat Shells and Cheese with Broccoli
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
45 mins
Course: Main Course
Servings: 8 servings
  • 1 lb whole wheat shell pasta small shells or elbow macaroni is fine
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 1 lb cheddar cheese freshly grated
  • 1 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • 1 head broccoli chopped
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large pot, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente (about 5 minutes - don't overcook here!). During the last minute of cooking, add the chopped broccoli. Drain the shells/broccoli and set aside.

  2. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium heat.

  3. When the butter has melted, add the flour and whisk together to form the roux. Keep whisking over medium until the color changes to straw-like and has an almost nutty smell. This will take about five minutes. 

  4. Slowly whisk in the milk. Whisk well to get rid of all clumps. Bring to a simmer and continue cooking/whisking until sauce thickens - about five more minutes.

  5. When sauce has thickened, add the grated cheddar cheese and garlic salt. Add the cooked pasta and broccoli. Stir well to coat. 

  6. Spray a 9 x 13" pans with nonstick spray. Pour in the macaroni and cheese. Add the feta -- stirring very gently. Top with panko breadcrumbs and place in oven for 25 minutes.

  7. Let macaroni and cheese cool slightly before serving. Enjoy!

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  • Carrie this fit chick
    April 11, 2017 at 6:37 am

    This looks delicious!! I love shell pasta– it’s a fun shape to eat, hah.

  • Aimee
    April 11, 2017 at 6:38 am

    Oh yum, this speaks straight to my soul…and stomach. My mom use to make us baked mac n cheese, I don’t think I actually had boxed mac n cheese until high school, at a friend’s house.

    The new linens are gorgeous!

  • Katie c
    April 11, 2017 at 7:18 am

    Working on stocking my freezer now for #2’s arrival! What do you recommend for how to freeze/thaw/heat when you do this as a freezer meal??

  • lisa
    April 11, 2017 at 7:33 am

    mmmm! mac and cheese is still a favourite!
    i have #2 on the way and would love more recipes that make good freezer meals. 🙂

  • Joanna
    April 11, 2017 at 7:33 am

    ^ second that question, would love a freezer tag / suggestions for good freezer meals 😛

  • Christina @
    April 11, 2017 at 8:19 am

    This looks so yummy! I love mac and cheese 🙂 I WISH I had made more freezer meals when I was pregnant. I made a big batch of meatballs and bought some frozen Trader Joe’s stuff, but next time I’m definitely making more.

  • Erin @
    April 11, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    This is so tantalizing! You have created the perfect food for comfort and for freezing! I love cooking ahead- there are so many “interruptions” in life, that meals from the freezer are an asset.

  • Megan
    April 11, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    made this for dinner tonight without changes, and it was amazing. the only things i’d change next time would be to add more veggies. two small heads of broccoli were still pretty overwhelmed by noodles, and the toddler ate them right up cheese-covered 🙂 i loved how adding the feta gave it the tang/depth without using cheeses that cost a ton or taking a lot of work. yum.

    also, are you supposed to cook the macaroni covered or not? covered till the end?

    thanks for a real crowd-pleaser!

  • Aimee
    April 11, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    You should go back through and tag some recipes that freeze well! Another mom expecting #2 soon. What kinds of things seem to work best– casseroles like this, and what else?

    • Shannon
      April 12, 2017 at 7:27 am

      I made Jenna’s chicken pot pie when I was expecting my baby. I made the filling and froze it, and then assembled with the puff pastry when I was ready to eat it. It tasted great!

  • Emma
    July 26, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    I have made this for my family and now for some friends who just had a new baby. Rave reviews all around!! Such an easy and delicious recipe! I personally am not a Velveeta lover, so I am so thrilled to have great cheesy recipes that require none of that… stuff.