Elevated Annie’s Mac & Cheese

This week’s recipe is without a doubt, my go-to comfort food. But before we get into that, I want to say that I know the flow of recipes has slowed a bit in recent months. What started as a pandemic project has blossomed into one of my favorite hobbies. However, as life has begun to return to normal, the weekends that were once empty have begun to fill up again. I am still as committed as ever to writing delicious vegetarian recipes, however there may be a bit more time in between recipes going forward.

Now, back to the recipe — one of the most comforting foods in my life growing up was my mom’s meat sauce. It was a delicious tomato sauce full of chunky vegetables, ground meat and herbs. I loved it so much, the second recipe I ever wrote was a recreation of that sauce. So to me, any pasta with a tomato based sauce that is full of vegetables hits the spot. Which is how this recipe came to fruition. Once long ago I put that delicious sauce on top of a bowl of Mac & Cheese. The result was stupendous and I have since loved adding tomato sauce to my Mac & Cheese. 

So, as Annie’s Mac & Cheese became a staple last minute meal, I began adding sauteed vegetables and tomato sauce. I iterated on it multiple times until I got to the version below. It has additional cheese to make the sauce creamier as well as additional seasoning. This recipe is fantastic when needing a fast meal, and is a way to not only eat delicious Mac & Cheese, but also to get some vegetables in with your meal. I hope you enjoy it! 

Cook time: 10 minutes

Active time: 15 minutes


  • 1 box Annie’s Shells & White Cheddar Mac & Cheese 
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced in semi circles
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 75g grated sharp cheddar (1 cup)
  • ¼ cup non-dairy milk
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp red chili peppers
  • 1 cup marinara sauce (Rao’s brand recommended)
  • Salt & pepper, to taste


  1. Begin by cooking the pasta based on the box’s instructions: bring a medium saucepan of well salted water to a boil and cook the shells for 8-10 minutes stirring occasionally. Once done, strain and set aside
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat a large non-stick pan on medium heat. Add in a dash of neutral oil and sautée the onion, carrots, red bell pepper and peas with a generous pinch of salt. Sautée, stirring frequently for 5-7 minutes until the carrots have softened and the onion is beginning to turn translucent. Take off the heat and set aside.
  3. Return the pot in which the pasta was cooked to low heat. Add the butter, non-dairy milk, grated cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, red chili flakes, lots of freshly cracked black pepper and the powder packet from the box to the pot and whisk until uniform. Add the pasta back in and combine. 
  4. Add the Mac & Cheese and the tomato sauce to the pan with the vegetables and return to low heat. Stir until everything is heated evenly and enjoy immediately!

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