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Mac & Cheese

January/February 2013

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This healthy, homemade macaroni and cheese recipe is topped with plenty of golden breadcrumbs. If you want to add a little flair to this healthy macaroni and cheese, use aged Gruyere instead of Cheddar and add extra ingredients like peas, chopped cooked mushrooms or chopped ham. This recipe makes more Cream Sauce without the Cream than you’ll need for the macaroni and cheese. Refrigerate or freeze the extra sauce and use it in place of heavy cream in any sauce or soup that calls for cream.


Mac & Cheese Recipe

Makes: 4 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each

Active Time:

Total Time:

Ingredients

Cream Sauce without the Cream

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2/3 cup long- or medium-grain white rice
  • 5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or “no-chicken” broth (see Tip)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, preferably white

Mac & Cheese

  • 8 ounces (2 cups) whole-wheat elbow noodles or other small pasta
  • 2 1/2 cups Cream Sauce without the Cream
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar or Gruyère cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • 3/4 cup fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs (see Tip)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Preparation

  1. To prepare cream sauce: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more. Add broth and wine and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until the rice is very soft and the liquid is greatly reduced, about 25 minutes. Cool slightly.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree, in batches if necessary, until smooth. (Alternatively, puree in the pot with an immersion blender.) The consistency should be similar to a pourable sauce; add more broth or water as needed. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, preferably white pepper.
  3. To prepare mac & cheese: Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a 6-cup (or similar-size) baking dish with cooking spray.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook 3 to 4 minutes less than the package directions. Drain and transfer to the prepared baking dish.
  5. Combine 2 1/2 cups of the Cream Sauce and Cheddar (or Gruyère) in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until melted. Season with pepper and hot sauce. Pour the sauce over the pasta and gently stir to combine. Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley and 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl and sprinkle over the casserole.
  6. Bake until the top is golden and the sauce is bubbling, about 30 minutes.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate cream sauce (Steps 1 & 2) for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator or using the defrost setting on your microwave.
  • Tip: To make your own fresh breadcrumbs, trim crusts from whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. To make fine breadcrumbs, process until very fine. To make dry breadcrumbs, spread coarse or fine breadcrumbs on a baking sheet and bake at 250°F until dry, about 10 to 15 minutes. One slice of bread makes about 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs or about 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs. For store-bought coarse dry breadcrumbs we like Ian’s brand, labeled “Panko breadcrumbs.” Find them at well-stocked supermarkets.
  • Variation: To make the sauce vegetarian, we like to use chicken-flavored vegetarian broth over regular vegetable broth for its hearty, rich flavor and pale yellow color. Look for “no-chicken” broth in the natural-foods section of well-stocked supermarkets.

Nutrition

Per serving: 511 calories; 17 g fat (8 g sat, 7 g mono); 34 mg cholesterol; 64 g carbohydrates; 1 g added sugars; 23 g protein; 6 g fiber; 712 mg sodium; 328 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Calcium (32% daily value), Magnesium (22% dv), Zinc (21% dv), Iron (18% dv).

Carbohydrate Servings: 4

Exchanges: 4 1/2 starch, 1/2 lean meat, 1 high-fat meat, 1 fat


More From EatingWell

Recipe Categories

Health & Diet Considerations
High fiber
Low cholesterol
High calcium
Preparation/ Technique
Bake
Meal/Course
Dinner

Type of Dish
Main dish, Other
Pasta
Ethnic/Regional
American
Ease of Preparation
Easy
Total Time
1 hour or less
Servings
4
Publication
January/February 2013

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