Want to turn a box of macaroni and cheese into a gourmet meal, with hardly any extra work? All you need is a little bit of Mesa de Vida’s recipe starter sauce and a can of chickpeas or beans. You’ll have a hearty, complete, protein-packed meal with globally-inspired flavors in minutes!

Turning a box of macaroni and cheese into a gourmet meal!

Easy way to elevate boxed mac and cheese.

I love making this recipe with the Banza chickpea pasta macaroni and cheese, which is a gluten-free staple at my house. Sometimes we just need a quick lunch or dinner, and this hits the spot. My teenage son makes this himself and loves it! This recipe works with any boxed macaroni and cheese you have on hand – regular, plant-based, gluten-free – it all works!

To add globally-inspired flavor, use any Mesa de Vida Recipe Starter Sauce flavor you have on hand. The blend of herbs and spices, concentrated fruits and vegetables elevate a box of mac and cheese without any more work on your end!

My family loves this with our Smoky Latin flavor, and it’s also great with our North African, Mediterranean, or Creole-inspired flavors.

If you do want to add meat, feel free to saute up some diced chicken or ground meat of your choice after you drain the pasta.

I hope you love it as much as we do!

Turning a box of macaroni and cheese into a gourmet meal!

Transform a box of Macaroni and Cheese Into a Gourmet Meal with Globally-Inspired Flavors!

Servings 4


  • 1 box macaroni and cheese I used Banza chickpea pasta macaroni and cheese, you can use any variety (regular, gluten free, vegan, etc.) or brand that you like!
  • 1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans about 1-1/2 cups, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tb butter, plant-based butter, or oil of your choice, optional
  • 1/3 cup milk or milk alternative of your choice
  • 2 heaping Tablespoons Mesa de Vida Recipe Starter Sauce of your choice try with our Smoky Latin, North African, Mediterranean, or Creole flavors!
  • hot sauce, additional salt and/or pepper to your tastes, optional


  • Cook the pasta according to the manufacturers directions, drain and set aside.
  • In the same pan that you cooked the pasta in add the drained beans, Mesa de Vida recipe starter sauce, cheese packet that came with the box of macaroni and cheese, butter/butter alternative and milk/milk alternative of your choice. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stir often and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Fold the drained cooked pasta into the mixture, stir carefully to combine. If there is too much liquid in the pan just cook for a few minutes until the consistency is how you like it; if there is too little liquid, add a splash more milk.
  • Taste and adjust for salt or hot sauce as you like it, serve and enjoy!

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