Recipe 46: Lighter Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Spinach and Red Peppers

Whoo!  That title is a mouthful, isn’t it?  Thankfully the ingredients are pretty easy to obtain, and the process is quite easy (maybe not what I would call an “easy mac” since it does involve more than just stovetop cooking, but nothing too difficult).  I baked this for friends, one of whom is vegetarian.  Thought I’d at least attempt to make something healthy-ish whilst still sneaking a mac in there.

Lighter Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Spinach and Red Peppers (from The Kitchn)

 

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces macaroni (2 1/2 cups dry macaroni)
  • 12 to 16 ounces baby spinach (7 to 8 large handfuls)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 (12-ounce) jars roasted red peppers, drained and diced (I’m fairly sure the hubz bought roasted – and pickled – peppers)
  • Fresh pepper, to taste

Directions

Heat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 3-quart casserole dish with nonstick coating.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt the water generously and add the macaroni. Cook until the pasta until it’s just barely al dente — a little bit of chew is fine here. Drain and immediately transfer the hot pasta to a large mixing bowl.

Add the spinach and toss to combine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a dinner plate and let the spinach wilt in the heat of the pasta for about 10 minutes. Shake the bowl occasionally to mix up the pasta and spinach — some of the spinach may not completely wilt; this is fine (like, none of mine did – it still came out cooked in the end).

Whisk the eggs until well-combined, then whisk in 2 cups of the cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, and salt. Pour the egg mixture over the pasta and wilted spinach. Add the diced red peppers and gently stir until combined and all the ingredients are evenly coated with sauce.

Transfer the macaroni and cheese to the baking dish. Cover tightly with foil. At this point, the casserole can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours before baking.

Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over the top of the casserole. Bake, uncovered, for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the cheese has melted and you can hear the casserole bubbling. (If baking straight from the fridge, extend the covered baking time to 45 minutes.)

Let the casserole cool for a few minutes before serving. Leftovers will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to a week.  Serves 8.

 

Verdict: 4/5

I’m town between making this a 3.5 and a 4.  The 4 won out because between the four of us, there was nothing leftover.  All of us had seconds, and our bowls were all clean.  The cottage cheese does make it come out a bit loose, thus I used bowls for serving – it really fell apart as soon as you cut into it.  Still, the texture was good and the varying tastes all worked together well.  I’m not sure how much lighter this is than a usual mac and cheese recipe, but it certainly felt lighter, if that makes sense: There was no cheese-belly feeling afterwards, but you still walked away satisfied.

 

 

So recently I have been trying to work to lose weight – nothing new there.  But since the holidays are coming up, it seems unlikely I’ll be meeting that goal.  With all these get-togethers coming up, I have found several new mac and cheese recipes (to go along with the many, many recipes I already have bookmarked) that are tempting me.  Do you have any recipes you think I should try?  Drop me a line!

 

 

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