• Beany mac and cheese (Desiree Nielsen)Source: Desiree Nielsen

While you may think there's no bettering mac and cheese, adding white beans boosts the protein levels of the dish, as well as adding extra textural and creaminess dimensions. 






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  • 2 cups whole-wheat dry rigatoni
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2½ cups milk
  • 1 cup canned white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup soft Muenster cheese, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • ½ cup gruyere cheese, grated
  • extra gruyere, for topping

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


1. Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF).

2. Cook pasta until al dente then drain and set aside.

3. Put butter into a saucepan over medium-low heat to melt. Add garlic and mustard seeds.

4. Stir in flour to combine. Cook for a few minutes, stirring.

5. Add milk slowly, stirring to combine. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring, to thicken.

6. Pour beans into a bowl and mash with a fork.

7. Add mashed beans to the saucepan, increase the heat a little, and stir to combine.

8. Mix in cheese and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper.

9. Add cooked pasta to pot and mix until pasta is covered.

10. Pour pasta into a baking dish and top with extra gruyere.

11. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and starting to brown.