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Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese

Mac & Cheese is a favorite comfort food for many, but it is somewhat lacking in the nutrition department.  It provides protein (cheese and milk in this recipe) but it comes with a good dose of fat and calories while lacking phytonutrients and fiber.  But who wants to give it up?  Not me.  I’ve included it in the healthy recipe section but only if you use the tips below to make it more nutritious (and delicious).

How to Make Macaroni and Cheese more nutritious?

  • Add a big serving of green beans.
  • Make a big leafy dark green salad with homemade vinaigrette.
  • Limit the serving size!
  • Voila!  Delicious healthy meal.

So, here’s my favorite recipe from New Basics.  I sold lots of it when I operated a take-out store on Shelter Island, NY.

Ingredients for Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1 pound penne
  • 4 cups milk (whole or 2% – I usually warm mine for a few minutes in the microwave before adding to sauce)
  • 4 TB butter (1/2 stick)
  • 6 TB all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 12 ounces Gruyere or sharp cheddar cheese grated (set enough aside to sprinkle on top)

Method for Macaroni and Cheese

  • Cook the penne as instructed (I use lots of salted water with a little olive oil, bring water to a boil and cook for 15 minutes.  Rinse with cold water to stop cooking and drain well in a colandar.

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  • Heat a heavy bottom sauce pan to medium high heat.  Add the butter and melt.

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  • Add the flour and paprika and stir with wooden spoon or whisk until flour is cooked (a couple of minutes) and golden.  Do not allow to burn (this can happen quickly if the heat is too high and you’re not watching the pot!)

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  • Add about 1 cup of the warm milk and whisk away.  As the mixture thickens slowly add more milk, whisking all the time to avoid lumps.

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  • After all the milk has been incorporated, allow it to come to a very low simmer while stirrng in a figure-8 motion (to avoid sticking to the pot).
  • The mixture will thicken when it just begins to simmer then remove from heat.
  • Season with salt and pepper and add the larger portion of grated cheese.  Combine, cheese will melt.

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  • Stir cooked, well-drained penne into the cheese sauce.  Turn into oven-proof casserole dish and top with remaining grated cheese.

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  • Cook in 350 degree oven until hot (25-30 minutes).  If the top is not browned enough, turn to broil for a few minutes.

Note:  Can be prepared ahead of time and stored in refrigerator, cover tightly with aluminum foil.  To serve, place in 350 degree oven with foil cover.  It will take a little longer since it’s cold.  Remove foil after 20-25 minutes and continue cooking until hot throughout and browning on edges.

 

 

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