Friday, February 10, 2012

Lean Gourmet Mac and Cheese

Let's take this classic everyone loves and SLIM it down :-)

16 ounces whole wheat medium shells
1 pint grape tomatoes cut in half
10 sprigs fresh thyme
1 medium onion chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 cups skim milk (you can use 1/4 cup less if you want the cheese sauce thicker)
1.5 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used 1/4 cup part-skim sharp cheddar and 1/4 Gruyere)
1/8 cup either shredded cheddar or Gruyere
1/4 cup Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs which you should be able to find at your local grocery store
Pinch nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

First, boil a pot of water and prepare the shells according to package instructions (I like mine al dente so I cook it about one minute less than the box tells me to usually).

Then, start by sautéing the onion in 1-tablespoon olive oil.  Once the onions are translucent add the tomatoes and sauté ~4 minutes.  Then add the fresh thyme and some salt and pepper to taste and sauté another 1-2 minutes:

Next, add milk, 1-tablespoon olive oil, flour, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste to a pot and warm gently over medium heat, stirring frequently.  Once the mixture thickens, reduce heat to low-medium and add 1/2 cup cheese and stir so that all the cheese is melted (pre-heat the oven to 400 now):

Once the cheesy sauce (yummmmy) is ready, take your cooked shells:

 .   .   .   .

And combine them with the cheese and tomato/onion/thyme mixture:

Now place the mac and cheese into a Pyrex dish (I know you want to eat it now but just a little longer):

Combine Panko with cheese and sprinkle on top:

Bake at 400 in the oven for about 20 minutes and then broil for 1-2 minutes using care not to burn the top.  You will know it's ready when the delicious aroma of thyme and fresh baked cheesy shells fills your home (and the cheese will bubble and the Panko will become nice and toasted).

Cozy, comfort food :-)

Thank goodness I have leftovers.



Solitary Diner said...

That looks just a wee bit healthier than the Kraft macaroni and cheese (or Kraft dinner here in Canada) that I had for supper. :D

Solmaz Amirnazmi said...

That's too funny :-) I always find it's nice to have a healthy version of a classic comfort food everyone loves-hope you get a chance to try it next time you're craving mac and cheese!