5. Recipe: Lightened Mac and Cheese Bites
How do you lighten mac and cheese? By displacing part of the pasta with butternut squash! Make them gluten-free by using gluten-free pasta and breadcrumbs. Make them vegetarian by substituting vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock. Serve these babies with your favorite jarred or homemade marinara sauce.
Skill level: Beginner
Start to Finish: 1 hour
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
8 oz uncooked elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
2 cups cubed butternut squash (1/4″ dice)
1½ cups chicken stock
½ cup milk
¼ teaspoon salt
8 oz extra sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (I like Cabot)
2 cups bread crumbs
1. Prepare elbow macaroni according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté onions, garlic, and squash until onion is tender but not brown.
3. Add stock and cook until liquid has almost completely evaporated.
4. Transfer vegetable mixture to a food processor or powerful blender; Purée until smooth.
5. Slowly add milk and purée for 20 seconds. Add salt and grated cheese and once again purée until smooth. Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl.
6. Once elbow macaroni is cooked, drain and add to sauce in bowl. Mix to coat pasta. Allow mixture to cool in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
7. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lay bread crumbs on a cookie sheet and spray lightly with cooking oil. Toast bread crumbs for 3-5 minutes, watching closely to ensure they do not burn. Allow to cool. Once cool, transfer to a small bowl. The toasting will achieve the browned look and crispy coating without deep frying.
8. Prepare egg wash by beating egg in a small bowl with a whisk or small fork.
9. Set up your work area by lightly greasing a mini muffin pan. Set out an assembly line of mac and cheese mixture, egg wash and bread crumbs.
10. Using a tablespoon sized scoop or spoon, create balls of chilled mac and cheese mixture. Lightly coat in egg wash and roll in bread crumbs. Place coated balls in the mini muffin pan.
11. Bake “bites” for 10-12 minutes, or until coating is cooked and mac and cheese is heated through.
Nutrition Information (per piece)
Calories: 158; Total Fat: 6 grams; Saturated Fat: 3 grams; Protein: 7 grams: Carbohydrates: 19 grams; Sugar: 2 grams; Fiber: 1 gram; Cholesterol: 23 milligrams; Sodium: 212 milligrams
Recipe and photo by Lauren Gibson, RD.Back to top