Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mac and Cheese, with a Conscience!

I often crave a favorite meal or dish and immediately nix the idea once the thought of calories and saturated fats associated with my most loved hearty foods sets in.  Searching high and low, I have managed to find better-for-you alternatives to some delicious classics and savory cravings. 

Because very soon we'll be grilling and entertaining outside, I decided to test a popular classic, Macaroni and Cheese.  Three years ago, I found a reduced fat version (with added fiber too!) in my Rachael Ray Everyday magazine, and haven't stopped baking it since!  I think this recipe packs plenty of taste to satisfy the craving for the cheesy deliciousness, but it contains a fraction of the calories found in traditional recipes.  Add the broccoli (I don't always add it), and you add a serving of vegetables and all of the benefits that come with it. 

Next time you're invited to a summer picnic or barbeque, bring this dish and just wait for the compliments to follow!

Baked Macaroni and Cheddar
1 large bunch broccoli, cut into bite-size florets and stalks peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pound whole wheat elbow pasta
2-1/2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots (about 3)
3 tablespoons flour
3-1/2 cups low-fat milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch
12 ounces cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
6 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, smashed
3 tablespoons bread crumbs

From  Racheal Ray Everyday, rachaelraymag.com


  1. Fill a large pot with enough water to reach a depth of 2 inches and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli and cook for 1 minute; drain and rinse with cold water. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and add the broccoli in an even layer.
  2. Fill the same pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente; drain.
  3. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400°. In the same pot, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the flour for 1 minute. Whisk in 1 cup milk until thickened, then whisk in 1 cup more. Whisk the cornstarch into the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk, then whisk the mixture into the pot. Simmer, whisking, until the sauce thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Lower the heat and stir in the cheddar and 4 tablespoons parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the pasta. Spoon the mixture over the broccoli.
  4. In a small heatproof bowl, combine the garlic and remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter; microwave at high power until melted, about 20 seconds. Stir in the bread crumbs, the remaining 2 tablespoons parmesan and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Discard the garlic, then sprinkle the bread crumb mixture on the pasta. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.


1 comment:

  1. Yum! I'm always looking for a good Mac and Cheese recipe, and you're such an awesome cook, Ana, that I'm sure this is amazing!