Macaroni and Cheese with a Crusty Crunch

Published January 17, 2012 by mytimewellspent

Macaroni and Cheese with a Crusty Crunch

30 mins total      10 mins prep



Everyone loves mac ‘n’ cheese — and everyone knows how nutritionally bad it can be. Calories start at 600 per serving and go into the thousands. It’s a dish that has become so rich that taming its fatty side proved to be quite a challenge. The base of the sauce in this version isn’t cream, but a puree of cooked onions and garlic. It gives the dish lots of flavor with not so much as a gram of fat. The very hot oven makes the breadcrumbs on top get nice and crunchy. It’s the combination of crisp and gooey textures that makes this a winning dish.

Recipe courtesy of Now Eat This!: 150 of America’s Favorite Comfort Foods, All Under 350 Caloriesby Rocco DiSpirito/Ballantine Books, 2010.


  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 4 ounces whole-wheat elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup OnionGarlic Puree, recipe follows
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup shredded 50% reduced-fat cheddar, such as Cabot
  • 1/3 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs, such as Ian’s All-Natural
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray an 8×8-inch baking dish with cooking spray, and set it aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook according to the package directions, 7 to 9 minutes; drain.
  • While the pasta is cooking, bring the Onion-Garlic Puree, mustard, and cayenne to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Whisk in the cheddar until it has melted. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the yogurt.
  • In a medium bowl, toss the cooked macaroni with the cheese sauce to coat thoroughly. Season with salt to taste. Pour the macaroni into the prepared baking dish, and sprinkle the panko over the top. Top with the Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  • Bake until the cheese has melted and the macaroni is hot throughout, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

  • 1 Large Vidalia onion, roughly chopped
  • 9 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Combine the onion, garlic, and water in a microwave safe bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for 10 minutes.
  • Pour the mixture into a blender and blend until it is completely smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 72 hours.




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