How to: Upgraded Macaroni & Cheese

Now, I don’t want to brag, but I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur when it comes to macaroni and cheese.

I mean, sure. What red-blooded American can’t say that they’ve had the “blue-box blues” since childhood (well…accept those lactose-intolerant children…sorry about that)? But for me, mac and cheese is more than just a childhood favorite.

I like to think I’ve elevated it to an art form.

The trick to really good mac and cheese is to think of the pasta and sauce itself as more of a vehicle — a catalyst, if you will — for more substantial ingredients. Sure, we all know that what you really want to eat are noodles slathered in creamy cheese sauce, but if it’s combined with lean proteins and vegetables, well, you’ve got yourself a health food right there.

I mix a lot of things into my macaroni. Tuna, asparagus, chicken apple sausage, peas, mini meatballs — nothing is really off-limits. But last week, I discovered my new favorite combo.

1. Non-fat Greek yogurt. My husband jokes that I will put this stuff on literally anything. Well…he’s not entirely wrong. But when you swap this baby in for the milk and butter in your mac & cheese recipe…something magical happens. It turns out rich, creamy, and slightly tangy (the savory trifecta in a sauce). You feel like you’re eating something positively decadent, when really it’s just high in protein, calcium, and skips any fat or cholesterol you might get with other mix-ins. Basically, it’s a food of the gods.

2. Annie’s Organic Mac & Cheese. I would be entirely remiss if I didn’t include my favorite prepackaged noodles. A college roommate introduced me to Annie’s, and I’ve never looked back. I’m sure someday I’ll branch out with my own noodles and cheese, but you can’t beat the simplicity of this. Plus, it’s organic, so…you can feel smug about that.

3. Broccoli. But not just any broccoli. I recommend roasting it first. Chop the florets into bite-sized pieces, toss with about a tablespoon of olive oil and some freshly grated sea salt and bake at 375 degrees (F) for about 13 minutes. Trust me, the roasting makes all the difference.

4. Chopped clams. I know clams aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like them, you have never liked them so much as you will like them in this recipe. It might sound kind of weird, but I found it delicious. You can also sub in flaked tuna if you aren’t ready to dive into shell fish.

The point is, you can really mix almost anything you like into mac & cheese, making it not only delicious, but incredibly versatile.

Anyone else have a favorite version to share?

4 thoughts on “How to: Upgraded Macaroni & Cheese

  1. Oh, no. No no no. This is wrong. Broccolli in macaroni cheese? Wrong. Clams? Wrong. The entire concept of pasta AND sauce out of a BOX?? Wrong on so many levels!

    Rigatoni. Home-made cheesy bechamel sauce. Generous helping of more (freshly grated cheddar) cheese on the top. Baked in the oven. There is NO OTHER WAY.

    (Except, on special occasions, with the addition of chopped up bits of crispy bacon or pancetta. That is the ONLY OTHER WAY.)

    Bet you’re glad I cleared that up for you! No need to thank me.

    • Bahaha thank you ever so much for righting my wrong πŸ˜‰

      I’m convinced mac’n’cheese preparation is the pasta equivalent of how people eat their Oreos. Both things say a lot about a person.

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