Thursday, January 20, 2011

Macaroni & Four Cheeses (Lightened!)

I wanted to make some kind of homey/warm/comforting side dish to go alongside the Quinoa Chicken Meatloaf.  Because our main dish was so healthy, full of protein & low in carbs, I knew we could splurge a bit on the side dish.  Even still, I just can’t go all the way with a full fat version.  And you know what, after one taste of this mac & cheese, I really don’t see the point.  It is still begins with a béchamel sauce which adds so much depth & flavor, but by using lighter cheese products, lowfat milk, and minimal butter you save a lot of calories & fat .  Growing up, my family’s version of mac and cheese was noodles, butter, velveeta, and milk.  And that was fine for then, but my expanded culinary horizons long for more!  The gorgonzola cheese in this recipe (which is something I’m not a big fan of on it’s own), adds such a uniquely rich tang.  The cheddar contributes the classic mac & cheese orange color and sharp flavor.  The swiss & parmesan round it out.  I recommend not leaving out the sage, as it lingers in the background, but definitely adds flavor.  I actually made the original recipe even healthier by using whole wheat bread for the breadcrumbs, whole wheat macaroni noodles, nonfat milk, and reduced fat swiss, because that’s what I had on hand.  This my friends, is non-guilty comfort food!

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Macaroni & Four Cheeses

adapted from Cooking Light
Yields: 8 servings (I successfully halved this recipe)

Ingredients:

1 pound uncooked medium elbow macaroni (whole wheat is a great choice!)
1 (1-ounce) slice white or wheat bread
2 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk (nonfat is fine)
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Emmenthaler or Swiss cheese (reduced fat works also)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons minced fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
2 teaspoons butter or stick margarine, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°.

Cook pasta in boiling water 5 minutes or until almost tender. Drain and rinse with cold water. Place pasta in a large bowl.

Place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs form. Set aside.

Bring milk and bay leaves to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Place flour in a small bowl; gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until well-blended. Return milk mixture to pan. Cook over medium heat until thick, stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from heat. Add cheeses, salt, and pepper; stirring until cheeses melt. Pour cheese sauce over pasta; stir well. Spoon mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Combine breadcrumbs, sage, and butter in a bowl; toss with a fork. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over pasta mixture.

Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

**Nutritional info from original recipe, my changes made it a bit healthier, but I'm too lazy to calculate it myself.**
Calories: 397; Fat: 11.3g (sat 6.6g,mono 3g,poly 0.7g); Protein: 20.7g; Carbohydrate: 52g; Fiber: 1.6g; Cholesterol: 32mg; Iron: 2.7mg; Sodium: 624mg; Calcium: 425mg

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12 Responses to “Macaroni & Four Cheeses (Lightened!)”

  1. 1
    Blog is the New Black — January 20, 2011 @ 6:59 am

    Erin, this looks, and sounds! delicious! I love mac and cheese!

  2. 2
    Caroline — January 20, 2011 @ 7:33 am

    Your mac and cheese looks beautiful! I have had problems before with lowfat cheese making a grainy sauce, but it’s obviously because I am not skilled enough at it yet! I love macaroni and cheese, but hate the guilt – this is the perfect solution!

  3. 3
    Brit — January 20, 2011 @ 8:09 am

    That looks awesome! I can’t wait to try it!

  4. 4
    Jessica — January 20, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

    You know I love me some Cooking Light! Looks great Erin!

  5. 5

    Like I said earlier, this is fantastic! I love a good mac and cheese, and the fact that it’s healthy but still tastes good is wonderful!

  6. 6
    Rachel — January 21, 2011 @ 9:45 am

    Mac and Cheese is great in every kind of way. I’m for sure trying this!

    Please come and take a look at my new blog, it’s similar to “Erin’s Food Files.” Looking forward to hearing from you!

    Thanks.

  7. 7

    This really looks outstanding. Comfort in a bowl! Mac and cheese is probably one of my favorite dishes ever. Will have to give this a try.

  8. 8
    Sherry Greek — January 22, 2011 @ 1:19 pm

    I just love homemade mac n’ cheeses! It’s so much better than the stuff in the blue box =X

  9. 9
    Lauren — January 23, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

    I made this tonight with a few alterations, and it came out deliciously well! In place of Swiss & blue cheeses, I substituted additional reduced fat sharp cheddar and a bit of Gouda. Mmmmm.

  10. 10
    Lesley — January 24, 2011 @ 1:36 pm

    This sounds like something I might try. Though I’d skip the bread crumbs. Not sure if it’s a regional thing, but down in the Delta, we just don’t do bread crumbs on mac and cheese. The cheddar makes its own nice crust.

  11. 11
    Melissa — January 25, 2011 @ 11:38 am

    Looks great! My husband loves mac and cheese so I know I’ll be making this!

  12. 12
    Zoe — February 28, 2011 @ 8:35 pm

    This looks delish. Been fantasizing about mac and cheese lately…a new restaurant Homeroom has just opened here in the East Bay and I’m dying to go…but it’s been jam packed. Perhaps I’ll have to put this on the menu soon to curb my cravings!!

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