I’m not the biggest fan of mac and cheeses, but my class made this in food systems lab and after eating it, I believe it’s a worthy recipe for saving. Of course it has its comfort food quality, but because dietetics majors made it, you know it’s going to be at least a little bit healthier. And definitely not your kraft macaroni and cheese from a box. It’s definitely something to turn to for a weeknight meal in the middle of winter, surrounded by family or friends.
Updated Mac and Cheese
From UF IFAS Extension
*Adapted by yours truly in order to work in a household kitchen*
Total time: about 1 hour
- 6 tablespoons bread crumbs, plain dry (I think you can use Italian too)
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 2 packages frozen spinach, 10 oz packages
- 3 1/2 cups milk, 1% low fat
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cups cheddar cheese, shredded, extra sharp
- 2 cups cottage cheese, low fat
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper, fresh ground
- 1 pound whole wheat macaroni, elbow
- Preheat oven to 450°. Coat a 9×13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil for cooking pasta.
- Cook pasta in the boiling water for 5 minutes or until not quite tender. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Mix bread crumbs, oil, and paprika in a small bowl; set aside.
- Steam spinach in the steamer for 8-10 minutes; test for doneness (not frozen). Press out excess moisture, set aside. (Note: If you don’t have a steamer, I think microwaving it will be perfectly fine. Find a microwave-safe bowl and put spinach inside. Cover and microwave until thawed out. The cover will prevent all the steam from escaping. I also don’t think you want to completely cook the spinach because it will be going into the oven.)
- Heat 3 cups milk in a large saucepan over medium high heat until steaming.
- In a small separate bowl, whisk remaining 1/2 cup milk and flour until smooth. Add to the hot milk and cook, whisking constantly until sauce simmers and thickens.
- Remove from heat and stir in cheddar cheese until melted. Stir in cottage cheese, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
- Add pasta to the cheese sauce. Mix well. Spread half the pasta mixture in the prepared pan. Spoon spinach on top. Top with remaining pasta. Sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture.
- Bake until bubbly and golden, about 20 minutes.