Creamy, Light Macaroni and Cheese: Recipe Makeover
We squashed out half the calories and three-fourths of the sat fat by using a new trick in the sauce.
Sidney Fry, MS, RD
August 23, 2011
1 of 6Photo: Randy Mayor
Lighter Mac and Cheese
This isn't the first time we've tackled this dish, of course, but this time we wanted to retain as much cheese as possible for both flavor and that nonnegotiable gooey texture, so the real work happened with the béchamel. Instead of the traditional buttery, heavy sauce, we turned to an unlikely hero for a boost: butternut squash. Combined with nonfat milk and Greek yogurt, the squash adds a rich, nutty flavor, sneaks in some vegetable, and brilliantly mimics the color and creaminess of cheddar sauce. A trio of bold cheeses packs more flavor than a one-cheese approach, while grooved pasta ensures full sauce coverage for a saucy favorite with all kinds of comforting goodness.
The Classic: •908calories per serving • 963 milligrams sodium • 36 grams saturated fat
The Makeover: •390calories per serving • 589 milligrams sodium • 6.1 grams saturated fat
2 of 6Photo: Randy Mayor
Nonfat Milk Replaces half-and-half and whole milk in the sauce to cut a total of 5g sat fat per serving.
Cheese Trio Parmigiano-Reggiano, pecorino Romano, and Gruyère save 336 calories worth of cheese per serving.
Cubed Butternut Squash Subs in for butter in our creamy sauce, saving 7g saturated fat per serving.
3 of 6Photo: Randy Mayor
Boil the squash with milk, broth, and garlic to help marry the sweet and savory flavors for an intensely rich base. No roux, no clumps, no mess.
4 of 6Photo: Randy Mayor
Puree the butternut squash mixture until smooth. Fat-free Greek yogurt adds tang, richness, and thickening power to the sweet butternut.
5 of 6Photo: Randy Mayor
Stir the three cheeses into the pureed butternut sauce while it's still warm to ensure they all melt evenly.
6 of 6Photo: Randy Mayor
Use a pasta shape that holds on to the sauce. We like cavatappi because of its corkscrew shape and grooved ridges; penne rigate would also work well.