Diet Mac & Cheese

As you have noticed on every restaurant menu on the planet, macaroni and cheese has graduated from a box to a high brow side dish filled with beautiful cheeses and in season ingredients. Never one to pass it up on the menu, I have sampled many. Whether it is truffle, bacon, or chipotle, they all are indulgent, rich and the perfect side to share. What I try not to do is eat it all the time, not eat the entire dish (although so very hard) and forget the hundreds, possibly thousands of calories involved. But there is always a time to indulge and always a time to enjoy a fantastic restaurant version. I came across this lower calorie recipe in Rocco DiSpirito's new cookbook and thought I would give it a try. Now this is not the dish you would be ordering for a night out at your favorite bistro. It won't hold a candle to the truffle mac at the new gastropub. What it is a lower calorie stand in should you be watching your diet or are just looking to get your fix at home. This is also great for kids who have mac and cheese on heavy rotation. The portion size is laughable, so I doubled it and it is still only 440 calories a serving. I also used Barilla Plus, as I prefer that pasta over whole wheat.

Macaroni and Cheese with a Crusty Crunch
Adapted from Now Eat This! by Rocco DiSpirito
makes 4 side servings

Nonstick Cooking Spray
8 oz whole wheat elbow macaroni
1 cup onion-garlic puree (see instructions below)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 pinches of cayenne pepper
2 cup shredded 50% reduced fat cheddar, such as Cabot
2/3 cup nonfat greek yogurt (I used 2%)
salt and pepper
1/2 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs (I used regular as I had it in the pantry)
1/2  cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Onion-Garlic Puree: Roughly chop 1 large onion, plus 9 garlic cloves. Place in bowl with 1/2 cup of water. Microwave on high for 10 minutes. Process until smooth in blender, food processor or mini chopper. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 8x8 or larger baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook according to the package directions, 7 to 9 minutes; drain.

3. While the pasta is cooking, bring the onion-garlic puree, mustard and cayenne to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Whisk in the cheddar until it has melted. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the yogurt.

4. In a medium bowl, toss the cooked macaroni with the cheese sauce to coat thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the macaroni into the prepared baking dish, and sprinkle the panko over the top. Top with the parmesan cheese.

5. Bake until cheese has melted and the macaroni is hot throughout, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.


1 comment:

Jacquelyn said...

I don't usually worry about calories, but as you mentioned, mac and cheese can pack quite a punch :) Love this adaptation by Rocco! Thankfully our reduced-fat cheddar melts just as well as full-fat cheese- very important in this dish. Thanks for sharing!

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