Lightened-Up Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Sometimes you want to eat your favorite Southern comfort food without feeling guilty about it. This easy Southern recipe for Lightened-Up Baked Macaroni and Cheese is perfect for days when you want a rich and filling meal without worrying about calories. Made with hearty and filling whole wheat pasta, this baked macaroni and cheese recipe is a lighter alternative to other fattening pasta dishes.
Using evaporated milk helps to make this dish extra creamy without weighing it down. Chopped spinach is also added to the mix to give this mac and cheese an extra nutritional punch. A crunchy mixture made from Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs helps to give this dish the golden-brown topping you know and love.
- 1 (14-ounce) box whole wheat high fiber elbow pasta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 (12-ounce) can reduced fat evaporated milk
- 1/4 cup skim milk
- 1 cup fat-free chicken broth
- 8 ounces reduced-fat shredded Cheddar cheese
- salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- 4 cups baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch or 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil, the add 1 teaspoon salt and the pasta and cook per package recommendations. Drain well.
Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet over low heat, melt the butter and cook the onion for 2 minutes. Using a whisk, stir in the flour until it looks dry and crumbly, at least 1 minute. Add about half of the milk and cook, stirring constantly until it thickens. Add the remainder of the milk and the broth gradually, stirring constantly until the mixture becomes smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese until it melts, then add the spinach and continue to stir until the spinach wilts and is evenly mixed into the sauce.
Add the pasta to the pan and stir until it is coated with sauce. Pour into the prepared bake dish. Combine bread crumbs and parmesan cheese and sprinkle on top of the casserole.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes until hot and bubbly.
Using reduced fat evaporated milk in this recipe gives it a creamier texture, but you may use a total of 1 3/4 cups 2% milk instead.
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