Macaroni and Cheese Casserole With A Bump in Nutrition
Macaroni and cheese is one of those recipes that seem to appear on every homemaker’s menu plan. But I wonder if they ever really stop to think about what a calorie-rich and nutrient empty meal it is. But it doesn’t have to be. A regular mac and cheese casserole recipe can be bumped up in nutrition like the one shared here by Registered Dietitian Tammi Hancock. She adds nutrient-dense spinach – a super food – along with artichokes which complement the blend and punch up the flavor.
Personally, I’m not a fan of cooked spinach – I prefer mine raw – so I’d have a spinach salad on the side and probably add chopped tomatoes in their place in the casserole. But I know I’m in the minority when it comes to cooked spinach. Most people love it! In fact, my friend Angela at AboutaMom just posted her recipe for Green Macaroni and Cheese with a spinach pesto sauce which makes a great St Patrick’s Day green mac and cheese for kids!
Start kids early on seeing greens in their macaroni and cheese casserole and you’ll keep them from falling under the dreaded yellow stuff that comes in a box and is packed with chemicals. If nothing else, make this recipe for them with 1/4 to 1/2 of the greens and move them towards better nutrition one step at a time.
So how do you like your mac & cheese? Are you a traditionalist, like mom made it or have you succumbed to the boxed version that some think is the one true “recipe.” Or do you fall in the middle, enjoying both?
- 2 c macaroni pasta, dry whole grain
- 1 14 oz can artichokes, drained and chopped
- 1 10 oz pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 4 oz Parmesan cheese, grated; divided
- 2 oz Romano cheese, grated
- 4 oz reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 2 c Smart Balance® Fat Free Milk with Omega-3s
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ cup dried breadcrumbs
- Cook macaroni in boiling water in a medium saucepan per package directions - cook only until al dente; drain.
- In a 9x13-inch baking dish, combine the drained pasta with the artichokes, spinach, and cheeses (except ¼ cup Parmesan which you’ll reserve for topping).
- In the empty saucepan on medium heat, place the flour and whisk in the milk until smooth. Add the garlic and pepper and continue to cook, stirring continuously, just until the mixture comes to a boil.
- Remove from heat and pour the sauce over the pasta mixture in baking dish. Stir to distribute the sauce thoroughly.
- Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven and stir carefully until the cheese sauce is creamy and smooth.
- To finish, combine the reserved ¼ cup Parmesan cheese with the dried breadcrumbs and sprinkle on top.
- Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes longer or until sauce is bubbly and topping starts to brown.
Add flavor and nutrition to traditional home-cooked mac and cheese by adding simple ingredients that take it from ho-hum to fabulous. Your macaroni and cheese casserole dish is ready in less than one hour and your body will thank you for the added flavor and nutrition!
Recipe and photo compliments of Smart Balance® and printed with permission