Weight & Wellness
575

Baked No Boil Mac and Cheese

 

 

One of my clients has a weakness - macaroni and cheese.  (Who doesn't have that weakness?)  And because she is a new lighter, healthier woman now, she will NEVER go back to making that boxed version with the white pasta and the orange powdered cheese.  She asked if I could devise a recipe for macaroni and that is easy and healthy.

The healthy part was simple - just use whole wheat pasta and grass-fed milk, cheese and butter.

I had to experiment with the easy.  First I tried cooking the pasta in milk on top of the stove and stirring in some cheese at the end - not bad, not to die, and not great left over.  Good enough in a pinch.

Next I tried baking the uncooked pasta with milk and cheese.  It was ok.  I didn't love it.

Finally, I tried baking the uncooked pasta with cheese and a light bechamel sauce.  Bingo!  Delicious and even better the next day! (Yes, I love leftovers!)

 

Ingredients:

 

1 lb.small whole wheat pasta - I used elbows

3 C. grass-fed cheddar cheese shredded and divided

1 C. tomato sauce or chopped fresh tomatoes (I used homemade sauce)

oil or butter for pan

4 Tbl. grass-fed butter (Kerrygold is very good)

4 Tbl. organic white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour

4 C. grass-fed milk plus more, if needed (I used Fairway brand)

Black pepper

Paprika

 

Butter or oil a 9 x 13 casserole.

Place pasta, tomato sauce and 2 cups of the shredded cheese in pan.  Stir to distribute cheese and sauce. (I ground some black pepper over the pasta, here).

To make the bechamel:

 

Melt butter in a 3 or 4 quart saucepan, whisk in flour and cook 2 minutes.  Slowly add milk, whisking constantly.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then lower heat and whisk until thickened -  about 10 minutes.

At this point, you may cover the sauce and set it aside, if you wish to bake the pasta later.  In which case you may need to thin with extra milk - the finished sauce should be thick, but pourable, like heavy cream.

If you are baking the pasta right away, pour sauce over pasta in casserole, do not stir, cover and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Uncover, top evenly with remaining cup of cheese, sprinkle with paprika and bake an additional 10 minutes or til bubbly.  You can broil if you like a crisp top.

If you bake the pasta with the cooled sauce, add 10 minutes to the baking time.

 

 

note:  I know it seems odd to add tomato sauce to macaroni and cheese, but please don't omit.  It adds a mysterious flavor, additional nutrition and an appealing color.

 

another note:  either serve this dish with lots of vegetables on the side, or add some to the dish itself - onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, peas, or string beans, for example, would all be good additions or sides.

 

Hope you like!!