Healthy(ish) Mac N Cheese
After this unexpectedly snowy and cold weekend, I was in the mood for some comfort food! I contemplated making the Barefoot Contessa’s Macaroni & Cheese which is absolutely delicious. But I didn’t want such a rich and heavy dish. I searched for some lighter mac ‘n cheese recipes and found this one that uses frozen winter squash which adds creaminess to the dish and a good dose of veggies.
The dish is very tasty. Not as amazing as a traditional macaroni and cheese but it is very creamy from the ricotta and squash. And, it has great flavor from the squash and the four cheeses. Some of the recipe’s reviews describe the recipe as bland. To avoid this, I would definitely use an extra-sharp cheddar and not skip the salt, cayenne, or ground mustard.
This dish is a delicious lighter alternative for adults and a great way to sneak some veggies into your kids dinner!
Macaroni & 4 Cheeses
- Cooking spray
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen pureed winter squash
- 2 cups 1 percent lowfat milk
- 4 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (about 1 1/3 cups)
- 2 ounces Monterrey jack cheese, grated (about 2/3 cup)
- 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon powdered mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until tender but firm, about 5 to 8 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, place the frozen squash and milk into a large saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up the squash with a spoon until it is defrosted. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the mixture is almost simmering, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the Cheddar, jack cheese, ricotta cheese, salt, mustard and cayenne pepper. Pour cheese mixture over the macaroni and stir to combine. Transfer the macaroni and cheese to the baking dish.
Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and oil in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, then broil for 3 minutes so the top is crisp and nicely browned.