Saturday, March 22, 2008


Steve continues to keep me good, which of course means that I've long ago given up one of my great foodie loves, macaroni and cheese. One of the best comfort foods out there, it's a little lacking in the health food department so it doesn't make its way into our house very much.

Last week I caught the end of an episode of Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger as she was making classic dishes just a little bit healthy. I decided to make Ellie's version of macaroni and cheese, but substituted her choice of squash for cauliflower in hopes of drowning out as much of the vegetable taste as possible.

The end result was good, but not wasn't nearly as cheesy as I would have hoped, so next time around I think I would use a little less ricotta and sprinkle some of the shredded cheese into the mixture rather than melting it all beforehand.

So, my hankering for macaroni and cheese wasn't quite satisfied, but I do feel good that I was able to hide some vegetables into my dinner - if I hadn't been the cook I would have never known :)

Cooking spray
1 pound elbow macaroni (I used whole wheat)
1/2 c cauliflower puree or 2 10-ounce packages of 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. Or steam cauliflower for 8 minutes, puree in a food processor until smooth and add to the milk. 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. Add more shredded cheese if looking for a cheesier 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.


Fiber said...

I completely forgot I had printed out her original recipe to make. Thanks for the reminder!
I love your variation though...

CJ said...

I love cauliflower. Added to mac & cheese? Brilliant!

I like to add leftover cooked squash too- butternut mac & cheese-- divine.