Thursday, November 3, 2011

Healthy Mac & Cheese

So I had doubts.  This doesn't sound possible, does it?  Healthy mac & cheese?  Plus, it's not insanely difficult ingredients to come by, and it's stove-top.  How easy is that?  I had to try it.  Had to!

It's better than I thought.  Creamy, ooey-gooey like mac & cheese should be.  It's quick to make if you've got the right leftovers on hand (that's the key here) and makes a nice side-dish.  The downside is that it's not really very cheesy.  It's got the feel, but not the hits-the-spot cheesy taste.  It tastes healthy.  It's good, but not quite on the mark.  So while it's not going to push my stand-by mac & cheese recipe outta the way, it's a nice compromise on the days I'm craving comfort food and feeling lazy.

Healthy Mac & Cheese
Makes: 18 (1/2 cup) servings

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato
3/4 cup low-fat milk (heated until just warm)
1 cup yogurt cheese*
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
pinch sea salt & black pepper
3/4 pound whole-grain macaroni noodles

Cook macaroni according to instructions on package.  Drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a skillet.  Add flour.  Using a whisk, make a paste.  Don't let it burn!
Add the warm milk gradually, whisking all the while, until you see the sauce begin to thicken. 
Add the mashed sweet potato.  Keep stirring.
 Add the Parmesan cheese, yogurt cheese, salt and pepper.  The sauce should be smooth. 
When that mixture is heated through, add the drained, cooked noodles.  Stir to coat the noodles.

Serve hot.

Note:  You can also finish by cooking in the oven.  Set the oven to 225 F, coat a casserole dish with olive oil, fill with the mixture, and bake for 10 - 15 minutes.

* Yogurt cheese is made by straining plain yogurt over cheesecloth in a colander overnight.

Source:  Tosca Reno, page 71.

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