Wednesday, September 21, 2011
A Mac & Cheese Makeover
I now understand why this recipe claims a yield of four servings, as you will want a huge helping of this dish or even seconds! Really, who doesn't love macaroni and cheese? It must be in the top five of preferred comfort food, and one can almost guarantee a child will eat it.
This recipe turns up the nutritional value by adding spinach and turns down some of the fat calories by using 1% fat milk and low-fat cottage cheese. To bump up the nutritional value even more, you may choose to use whole-wheat pasta. My tip: Don't leave out the ground nutmeg. One-eighth of a teaspoon isn't a lot, but it is a real star in this mac and cheese healthier makeover.
Updated Mac and Cheese
Recipe, Eating Well Magazine
Yield: 4 servings
3 tablespoons plain dry breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 16-ounce or 10-ounce package frozen spinach
1 3/4 cups 1% milk, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (6 ounces)
1 cup low-fat (1%) cottage cheese
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
8 ounces (2 cups) elbow macaroni or penne
1. Put a large pot of lightly salted water on to boil. Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat an 8-inch square (2-quart) baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Mix breadcrumbs, oil and paprika in a small bowl. Cook spinach according to package directions. Drain and refresh under cold water; press out excess moisture.
3. Heat 1 1/2 cups milk in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until steaming. Whisk remaining 1/4 cup milk and flour in a small bowl until smooth; add to the hot milk and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce simmers and thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Cheddar until melted. Stir in cottage cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
4. Cook pasta for 4 minutes, or until not quite tender. (It will continue to cook during baking). Drain and add to the cheese sauce; mix well.
5. Spread half the pasta mixture in the prepared baking dish. Spoon the spinach on top. Top with the remaining pasta; sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake the casserole until bubbly and golden, 25 to 30 minutes.
Note: This would be ideal to make ahead. As per Eating Well Magazine, prepare the recipe through Step 4. Cover and refrigerate for up to two days or freeze for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator, if necessary, then bake for 35 to 40 minutes. I would wait to add the breaded topping until ready to bake, but that is not necessary.