Macaroni and Cheese Revisited


This updated recipe illustrates how you can lower saturated fat without sacrificing the rich taste of classic mac-and-cheese. The cream sauce is thickened with a mixture of cold milk and flour, instead of the usual butter-flour roux, and low-fat cottage cheese replaces some of the high-fat cheddar. In addition, a layer of spinach in the center makes this more nutritious than traditional recipes.

  • 6Servings


  • 1 3/4 cups 1% fat milk
  • 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (6 oz.)
  • 1 cup 1% fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, or more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 10 to 12 oz. fresh spinach, stemmed and rinsed well (about 16 cups)
  • 1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 8 oz. dry elbow macaroni (2 cups)


Bring large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 8-inch square or other 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.

In small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup milk and flour until smooth; set aside. In heavy medium saucepan, heat remaining 1½ cups milk over medium heat until steaming. Add flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until sauce boils and thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheddar until melted. Stir in cottage cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Set aside.

In another large pot, cook spinach over medium-high heat with just the water clinging to leaves, stirring often, just until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain in colander and rinse under cold running water; press out excess moisture. Coarsely chop large leaves. Set aside.

In small bowl, mix together bread crumbs, oil and paprika. Set aside.

Add macaroni to boiling water, stir to prevent sticking. Cook, stirring often, until barely tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold running water, then drain again.

In large bowl, combine reserved cheese sauce and macaroni; mix with rubber spatula. Spread half the macaroni mixture in prepared baking dish. Spread with reserved spinach. Top with remaining macaroni mixture and sprinkle evenly with reserved bread crumb mixture. (Casserole can be prepared ahead to this point. Cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before baking.)

Cover with ovenproof lid or foil and bake 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is crispy, 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Nutrition Information

  • Calories: 272
  • Carbohydrate Content: 23 g
  • Cholesterol Content: 34 mg
  • Fat Content: 12 g
  • Fiber Content: 2 g
  • Protein Content: 18 g
  • Saturated Fat Content: 7 g
  • Sodium Content: 616 mg