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Macaroni and Four Cheeses

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Serves 6

  • by Ellie Krieger from The Food You Crave

This creamy, crumb-topped macaroni-and-cheese gets its bright golden color and a big nutritional boost from puréed winter squash. Don’t tell and no one will ever know. They’ll just thank you for making their  favorite cheesy comfort meal.

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 16-oz. box elbow macaroni
  • 2 10-oz. packages frozen puréed winter squash
  • 2 cups lowfat milk
  • 1-1/3 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese (4 oz.)
  • 2/3 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese (2 oz.)
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbs. plain dry bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbs. freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 tsp. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat a 9 x 13-in. baking dish with cooking spray. Cook the macaroni according the package directions. Drain and transfer to the prepared baking dish.

Meanwhile, place the frozen squash and milk in a large saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up the squash with a spoon until it is defrosted. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the mixture is almost simmering, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheddar, Jack cheese, ricotta, salt, mustard, and cayenne. Pour this mixture over the macaroni and stir to combine.

Combine the bread crumbs, Parmigiano, and oil in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake until the cheeses are bubbling around the edges, about 20 minutes, then broil for 3 minutes so the top is crisp and nicely browned.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 390; Fat (g): 11; Fat Calories (kcal): 99; Saturated Fat (g): 6; Protein (g): 18; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 1; Carbohydrates (g): 56; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0.5; Sodium (mg): 547; Cholesterol (mg): 35; Fiber (g): 3.5;

Photo: Christopher Hirsheimer

I made this first for my son's birthday and it is my go-to recipe now. The only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 is because I prefer the cheese to be all sharp cheddar; the flavor is richer. I replaced the ricotta with cream cheese one time and it was also delicious. I also usually double or triple the topping. For a tasty weeknight dinner I bake fresh kielbasa links or other sausage on top of the macaroni and serve some seasonal vegetables. So good.

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