Macaroni and Cheese is always a crowd-pleaser, especially with kids. Recently, I planned a holiday food buffet with sophisticated flavors and then decided to add this dish so I could please a wider range of palates. I wanted to make a dish lower in fat so the adults wouldn't feel guilty having some too. I took a regular recipe and lightened it up. I changed half the ingredients to lowfat. I also used lactose-free ingredients so I could enjoy the dish as well. Judging by the crowd's response, I succeeded in making healthier, tasty Mac and Cheese. My friend's daughter Jessica declared this recipe the best Mac and Cheese ever.
This recipe works because it starts with a bechamel sauce as a base, and then cheese is added. But don't let a fancy term deter you; this is a simple recipe with a few ingredients stirred in a pot to form a delicious sauce. Furthermore, this combination of cheeses works well. The yogurt cheese I selected is mild, so I paired it with an extra sharp white cheddar cheese to add flavor. The extra sharp cheese alone would be too strong. I used Cabot's extra sharp white cheddar which I found at Trader Joe's and The Cultured Way's yogurt cheese which I found at Vicente Foods, a gourmet grocer. Both cheeses are lactose-free, which makes me very happy. Nevertheless, whatever cheese you find in your neighborhood will work equally well. Just look for cheese that is not too strong or too bland. Happy cooking.
|Make-Ahead, Homemade Mac and Cheese (lowfat, lactose-free)|| |
- 1 pound elbow macaroni pasta
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup white whole wheat flour
- 4 cups lactose-free lowfat milk
- 6 ounces extra sharp aged white cheddar (shredded, about 2 cups lightly packed)
- 6 ounces mild, aged, lowfat white cheese (shredded, about 2 cups lightly packed)
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- About 2 teaspoons kosher salt (to taste depending on saltiness of cheese and preference)
- Several grinds freshly cracked black pepper
- Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water. Slightly undercook the noodles until they are al dente, meaning that the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite. Drain noodles in a colander, and then run noodles under cold water to halt the cooking. Drain well, and set aside.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a medium-sized pot, add the oil and flour, and heat over medium high heat. Whisk until the flour is incorporated, and cook for a few minutes. Gradually add in the milk and whisk until the sauce is smooth and thickens up, about 5 minutes. Turn flame to low, and stir in the shredded cheese. Add nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- To make ahead, put the noodles in a large casserole, and pour the sauce over the noodles. Gently, fold the noodles over to coat the noodles in sauce. The dish will be extra saucy now, but will be just right when re-heated.
- Let dish cool, then cover and refrigerate.
- When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 375 degrees farhrenheit. Heat the mac and cheese covered for about 30 minutes or until dish is warm, then serve.
- Do not run cold water over the cooked pasta.
- Use about ⅔ to ¾ of the sauce.
- No need to reheat in a casserole.