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Tuna mac & cheese takes a trip to the Southwest with spicy tomato and festive blue tortilla chips on top. Canned tomatoes with green chiles and ancho chile powder add a peppery kick, but if you like, you can keep it mellow by using a 14-ounce can of drained petite diced tomatoes and mild chili powder.

Source: EatingWell Magazine, March/April 2011

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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

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  • Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling water according to package directions. Drain and rinse.

  • Meanwhile, whisk flour and 2 tablespoons milk in a small bowl. Heat the remaining milk in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat until steaming.

  • Gradually whisk a few tablespoons of the hot milk into the milk-flour mixture, then whisk this mixture back into the skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce is smooth and slightly thickened, 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in Cheddar, pepper Jack, chile powder, salt and pepper.

  • Puree cottage cheese in a food processor or blender until very smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Stir into the sauce in the skillet. Add tuna and the pasta; stir well to coat with the sauce. Sprinkle drained tomatoes evenly over the top.

  • Bake until hot and bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Top with crumbled tortilla chips.

Tips

Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 5 (transfer to a baking dish, if desired, before topping with tomatoes), cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Bake at 450°F until hot and bubbling, about 35 minutes.

Notes: Ancho chile powder, made from dried poblano peppers, has a mild, sweet spicy flavor. Look for it in the spice section of well-stocked supermarkets.

Chunk light tuna, like all fish and shellfish, contains some mercury. According to the FDA and EPA, women who are or might become pregnant, nursing mothers and young children should limit their consumption to 12 ounces a week of fish with lower mercury, including canned “light” tuna. Consumption of albacore tuna (which is labeled “white”) should be limited to no more than 6 ounces a week. And, if you're looking for an environmentally sustainable canned tuna option, check the label--tuna that was caught by troll or pole-and-line is considered the best choice, according to Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Program. Or look for the blue Certified Sustainable Seafood label from the Marine Stewardship Council.

We like to use flavorful Rotel brand diced tomatoes with green chiles--original or mild--in place of regular diced tomatoes in Southwest-inspired dishes. Find them near other diced tomatoes and/or in the Mexican-food section at most supermarkets.

Nutrition Facts

about 1 1/2 cups
442 calories; protein 32.9g; carbohydrates 55.3g; dietary fiber 5.5g; sugars 6.7g; fat 11.5g; saturated fat 6.2g; cholesterol 39mg; vitamin a iu 748.9IU; vitamin c 4.4mg; folate 45.8mcg; calcium 374.7mg; iron 2.7mg; magnesium 78.9mg; potassium 380.4mg; sodium 725.1mg; thiamin 0.3mg.

3 starch, 1 reduced-fat milk, 1/2 vegetable, 1 1/2 medium fat meat

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