Mac and cheese is one of the most beautiful comfort foods in American cuisine. Unfortunately, it often gets a bad rep due to its high calorie content.
Once upon a time, I set out to make it healthier for my family and discovered a process which in the end might not have made it exactly healthier, but definitely tastier.
My recipe is inspired from this Fitness Magazine recipe, though you’ll quickly realize why it is no longer healthy, still I count it as healthy (ish).
Begin by preheating the oven to 425° and boiling the macaroni.
Rocco’s Secret Weapon, found in the recipe and otherwise known as onion and garlic puree, is seriously a mac and cheese game changer. It’s insanely simple.
Place a medium yellow onion, nine cloves of garlic and 1/2 cup water in a bowl* and season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for five minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and puree with an immersion blender.**
*I use the measuring cup my immersion blender came with.
**Or dump into a regular blender and puree.
This is the base, and a healthy alternative to the buttery roux most mac and cheeses begin with.
Dump the puree into a medium pot*, season with dry mustard and cayenne, and allow to simmer.
*I use the same pot I boiled my noodles in.
Toss in two cups of cheddar, or any cheese combination you prefer*, and whisk.
*If we were really being super healthy, I suppose I’d say reduced fat. But, like I said, healthy (ish).
This is already pretty beautiful, but many more wonderful things are coming.
Remove the mixture from the heat and whisk in 2/3 cup of Greek yogurt.*
*Again, I go for the good stuff. Where dairy is concerned, I want all the fats I can get.
Add a pound of cooked macaroni, or in my case, whatever you have lying around.
Time to stop and admire this deliciousness right here.
If you can manage to use it for the mac and cheese, and not shove it all into your mouth, take about a third of the bacon and add it to the mixture.
Dump the mixture into a dish sprayed with cooking spray.
And sprinkle the remaining bacon* on top.
*You still have it, don’t you?
Top with Panko* and freshly shredded Parmesan.
*I was serving a semi-picky eater, so I omitted the Panko crumbs this time.
Bake uncovered for 15 minutes.
I’ve had quite a lot of mac and cheese in my time, but this is my favorite. It’s creamy and crunchy! It’s cheesy and bacony! And it’s healthy! (ish….)
Healthy (ish) Mac and Cheese
- 1 lb macaroni
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 9 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 cups shredded cheddar
- 2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 10 pieces cooked bacon, chopped
- ¼ cup Panko
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
- Preheat oven to 425º and cook the macaroni. If you don’t have cooked bacon on hand, cook the bacon now, too. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- Prepare onion and garlic puree while the noodles boil. (I like to make the mac and cheese in the same pot the noodles boiled in.)
- Onion and garlic puree: Place onion and garlic in a microwave safe bowl with ½ cup of water. Season with salt and pepper. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave for five minutes. Puree mixture with an immersion blender or dump into a regular blender.
- Place cooked macaroni in strainer. Simmer onion and garlic puree and season with dry mustard and cayenne pepper.
- Whisk in cheddar until melted.
- Remove pot from heat. Whisk in yogurt.
- Toss macaroni with cheese sauce. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Stir in about a third of the bacon.
- Dump the macaroni mixture into the prepared dish. Top with the remaining bacon, Panko crumbs, and Parmesan.
- Bake for 15 minutes.