As I was cooking up this skinny version of macaroni and cheese with broccoli in it, I must admit, I was a little dubious about how it would taste. I should not have been worried, because it was absolutely glorious.
In fact, I was having trouble not eating the cheese mixture with a spoon. I couldn’t help but think that the cheese mixture on it’s own would be a terrific lower calorie substitution for cheese fondue. Of course, dunking bread in any kind of cheese could never be considered healthy, so maybe if you’re going to have fondue, you should just go for it.
I used a little trick I often do and replaced the salt with chicken bouillion cubes. Gives things a little more depth of flavor, but still adds that salty kick. I also didn’t have any low calorie butter, so I just used regular butter.
Also, if I had this to do over, I wouldn’t add the broccoli in with the noodles to cook; I would throw it into the cheese/noodle mixture raw before baking it. As it was, I only added it for the last 30 seconds to the pasta water, and still felt like the broccoli was over cooked when it came out of the oven.
Recipe Adapted from Skinny Taste
12 oz high fiber elbows like Ronzoni Smart Taste (I used two cups of dry pasta)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp light butter (I just used two tablespoons regular butter)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup minced onion
2 cups skim milk
1 cup fat free chicken broth (vegetarians use vegetable broth)
8 oz (2 cups) Sargento shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar (I used a Mexican blend of reduced fat shredded cheese)
salt and fresh pepper to taste (I used chicken boillion for salt)
12 oz fresh broccoli florets
1/8 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
Cook pasta and broccoli together (as I said above, I recommend just cooking the pasta and throwing the broccoli raw into the casserole dish before baking) in a large pot of salted water, according to package directions for al dente (or slightly under cook 2 minutes). Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 375°.
In a large, heavy skillet, melt butters. Add onion and cook over low heat about 2 minutes, add flour and cook another minute, or until the flour is golden and well combined. Add milk and chicken broth and whisk(or use an immersion blender if you have one to get all the lumps out), raising heat to medium-high until it comes to a boil; cook about 5 minutes or until the sauce becomes smooth and thick. Season with salt (or bouillion) and pepper.
Once the sauce is thick, remove from heat, add cheese and mix well until cheese is melted. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, add cooked macaroni and broccoli and mix well. Pour into prepared baking dish. Top with grated cheese and breadcrumbs. Spray a little more cooking spray on top.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, then broil for a few minutes to get the breadcrumbs golden.