I love mac n’ cheese, ya’ll. But it’s one of those meals that you just can’t bring yourself to indulge in on a regular basis. Maybe that’s what makes it so good. It definitely brings me back to my elementary school days, when we’d have a snow day and stay at home and make our own play-dough and string cranberries and popcorn and eat Kraft mac n’ cheese (yes, the 100% “synthetic and we don’t even pretend not to be” bright orange kind). Yet something about that mac n’ cheese was just. so. dang. good!
Since I’ve “grown up” a little bit, I’ve gotten away from that mac n’ cheese from the box (okay, okay, Annie’s makes a mean boxed white cheddar variety… but at least it’s got the organic part going for it!) and moved on to making my own. But really, how many ways can you experiment with mac n’ cheese besides changing the only two ingredients- pasta and cheese? Hmmmm… maybe I’ll REALLY change things up tonight and instead of elbows, I’ll use SHELLS! Probably not that exciting.
On the bright side, with only two main ingredients, it’s pretty hard to mess up macaroni and cheese. But when I first came across the idea of a “lightened-up” version using yogurt in place of cream for the cheese sauce, I have to admit that I was a little skeptical. But when I thought about it more, it seemed to make more sense- why wouldn’t plain Greek yogurt be a sensible alternative to heavy cream? Thick, creamy, and perfectly tart, plain Greek makes perfect sense. And it doesn’t mean you can’t add the other stuff like butter and flour; it just means you get to add a bit less of them to save some unnecessary calories! I promise you won’t even miss them.
I also added a little chili powder and nutmeg for an extra kick, and topped it off with Panko breadcrumbs and a drizzle of truffle oil (because that stuff makes ANYTHING feel more gourmet, so even if my mac n’ cheese stinks, maybe no one will even notice!).
I’m all for indulging occasionally when it comes to food. But with this dish, at least you can indulge in the healthiest way possible! 🙂
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni
- 1/2 stick butter
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 cup low fat milk
- 8 oz low fat plain Greek yogurt (I used Fage 2%)
- 8 ounces reduced fat, extra sharp cheddar, grated
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 tablespoon truffle oil, for finishing
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Cook macaroni according to package directions (about 9-11 minutes for al dente). Rinse and set aside.
- In a large pan, heat 1/2 tablespoon butter. Add onions and cook on medium high heat until translucent, about 3 – 4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Reduce heat to medium.
- In the same pan, heat remaining butter. Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes.
- Slowly whisk in milk and yogurt until thick. Remove from heat and stir in cheddar and Parmesan cheeses, reserving a bit of the cheddar for topping later! Mix well.
- Add salt, pepper, chili powder and nutmeg. Mix onions, pasta and sauce together.
- Pour mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar and Panko bread crumbs. Drizzle with truffle oil.
- Bake 30 – 35 minutes, or until cheesy is melted and bread crumbs have browned.