Healthier Baked Pasta & Cheese

Healthier Baked Pasta & Cheese

The other day, my wife and I were jonesing for something cheesy for dinner, and so I took to looking for a healthy “mac and cheese” recipe to satisfy our taste for all things cheesy, while keeping it nutritious. I found a recipe for Broccoli Mac and Cheese in my Good Housekeeping 400 Calorie Meals cookbook, and gave it a whirl. Admittedly, I altered the recipe a bit to suit the types of cheese I had on hand (and to use a different pasta noodle other than macaroni). But after all was said, done, and baked, the end result was nothing short of delicious. If you’re in the mood for some homemade “mac and cheese”, give this recipe a shot — it’s sure to satisfy your craving for all things cheesy!

Ingredients

  1. 8 oz. pasta
  2. 3 oz. reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 c.)
  3. 3 oz. gouda cheese, shredded (about 1 c.)
  4. 1/2 c. broccoli florets (partially cooked, if desired)
  5. 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  6. 1 2/3 c. low-fat milk
  7. 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  8. 1 tsp. thyme
  9. Panko bread crumbs (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Spray 4 two-cup ramekins or a large casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepot, whisk together cornstarch and 2 tbsp. milk. Heat on medium-high, gradually adding the remaining milk in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. Heat to boiling, whisking frequently, then cook 2 minutes longer, continuing to whisk. Remove saucepot from heat and add cheese, pepper, and thyme, stirring until cheeses are melted and sauce is smooth.
  5. Add cooked and drained pasta to the cheese sauce, stirring well to incorporate. Carefully stir in the broccoli florets.
  6. Divide the mixture evenly into prepared ramekins/casserole dish and bake, uncovered, for 12-15 minutes, or until cheese begins to bubble and brown.
  7. Remove from oven, and set the oven to broil (high) setting.
  8. Top pasta with Panko bread crumbs, if desired, and broil for 2-3 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Notes

Like I said, I modified the original recipe a bit (for instance, I used fontina instead of gouda, and used a mix of mozzarella and cheddar), but all in all, it’s still a pretty simple recipe filled with flavor and cheesy goodness. Feel free to modify the types of cheese, mix-ins, and/or toppings to suit your taste.

Bon Appétit!

 

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