Monday, March 5, 2012

Reduced-Fat Macaroni & Cheese

I had a real hankerin' for a hearty pasta dish that would stick to my ribs and warm my soul. So when Jill came over for girls' night last week, Macaroni & Cheese seemed like the perfect choice.

This version is everything I hoped for: carby and cheesy with a crunchy crust. The sauteed onion and Dijon mustard add a grown-up feel to this childhood classic. Although, I guess that means if you're making this Mac & Cheese for actual children, you may want to leave out the onion.

Reduced-Fat Macaroni & Cheese
Adapted from
Serves: about 6

12 ounces your favorite short pasta (I used rotini, but cavatappi is my favorite for mac & cheese. Elbows, of course, are the classic choice.)
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup very finely minced onion
2 cups milk (I used 1%.)
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1.5 tablespoons Dijon mustard
8 ounces shredded 2% reduced-fat cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions until al dente.

In an oven-safe Dutch oven*, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and cook about one minute to get rid of the raw flour taste. (It's ok if your flour mixture clumps up.) Stir in onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 3-4 more minutes. Whisk in milk and chicken broth, making sure there are no more lumps of flour. Raise heat to medium-high and continue whisking until mixture comes to a boil and is smooth and thick, about 5 minutes. Stir in Dijon mustard.

Turn off heat and stir in shredded cheddar. Keep stirring until cheese is melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in cooked pasta until evenly coated with sauce.

Sprinkle Panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan on top of pasta. Bake for 15-20 minutes until breadcrumbs and cheese are golden.

*If you don't have an oven-safe Dutch oven, transfer the macaroni & cheese to a baking dish before cooking in the oven. I prefer to use the same pot I cooked the sauce in because that's one less dish I need to wash.


  1. Oh my, that does look incredibly indulgent, love that you made it healthier! :) I definitely get cravings for mac and cheese that my waistline doesn't approve of...

  2. How did you manage to make that healthier! I surely want some mac and cheese now!