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Healthy Macaroni and Cheese

Ricotta and pureed squash give this slimmed-down but familiar dish its creaminess.

  • servings: 6
Photography: Sang An

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Ingredients

  • 1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup Homemade Chicken Stock Homemade Chicken Stock
  • 1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for water
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 4 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese (1 ounce)
  • 2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Olive-oil cooking spray

Directions

  1. Step 1

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine squash, stock, and milk in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Mash contents of saucepan; stir in nutmeg, cayenne, and salt, and season with black pepper. Stir to combine.

  2. Step 2

    Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt. Add noodles; cook until al dente, according to package instructions, about 8 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl; stir in squash mixture, cheddar, ricotta, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan.

  3. Step 3

    Lightly coat a 9-inch-square baking dish (4 inches deep) with cooking spray. Transfer noodle mixture to dish. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan, and oil; sprinkle evenly over noodle mixture.

  4. Step 4

    Cover with aluminum foil, and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil, and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top, 30 to 40 minutes more. Serve immediately.

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Reviews (18)

  • 28 Jan, 2013

    Where are the nutrition facts for this healthy recipe??

  • 28 Sep, 2012

    Came out great!!! I pureed the squash mixture instead of mashing it, and added a sautéed onion with a few tablespoons of butter before returning the squash mixture to the pot. I also melted my cheese with with squash before mixing it with the pasta. Made plenty for leftovers,

  • 21 Jan, 2011

    Very disappointed.

    Loving both main ingredients, it didn't seem that they came together in the finished dish. The squash overpowered the cheese and its texture isn't very creamy.

  • 26 Nov, 2010

    'Excellent! I made it with whole wheat pasta and a littler extra pepper. Tastier then regular Mac 'n Cheese and not greasy.

  • 26 Nov, 2010

    'Excellent! I made it with whole wheat pasta and a littler extra pepper. Tastier then regular Mac 'n Cheese and not greasy.

  • 18 Oct, 2010

    I modified this completely and it worked out great for my two picky toddlers. We cooked the squash in the oven first, then pureed it and the heat melted all of the other ingredients... skipped the milk and added a little chicken broth. I also used rice macaroni instead. Delicious! And it didn't sit in your tummy like a loaded brick like traditional mac n cheese.

  • 8 Oct, 2010

    So disappointing! Bland, tasteless; the whole dish ended up in the garbage.

  • 8 Oct, 2010

    So disappointing! Bland, tasteless; the whole dish ended up in the garbage.

  • 17 Aug, 2010

    My family loved it! Our 2 kids, 6

  • 23 May, 2010

    TOTAL calories: 1,950; TOTAL fat: 18.2 g, TOTAL Cholesterol: 15.3 mg, TOTAL carbohydrate: 378.7g, TOTAL Fiber 53g, TOTAL Protein 126.2 g

    Remember this is with all nonfat cheese, no oil, and no breadcrumbs!

  • 23 May, 2010

    I am shocked at how tasty this recipe is! I substituted all of the cheeses with "nonfat" varieties (including the ricotta) while eliminating the bread crumbs and oils, and it is still as good as ever. I am a Nutritionist, so I used a software program to check the nutr stats. Here they are (with all nonfat items) for the ENTIRE recipe. Divide it into the serving sizes you deem appropriate:

  • 1 Mar, 2010

    It doesn't really taste like mac and cheese, so my kids were not fans. You can see my results here: http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/healthy-macaroni-and-cheese?backto=true

  • 22 Jan, 2009

    Sounds good, but where is the nutritioal information? As a diabetic that information is crucial.

  • 14 Sep, 2008

    This is a family favorite! I make it even healthier by using whole wheat spiral pasta and 50% light organic cheddar cheese. Delicious!

  • 14 Sep, 2008

    I've been making this recipe for years and it is a family favorite. I make it even healthier by using whole wheat spiral pasta

  • 29 Jul, 2008

    My family loves this. I stock up on squash baby food when it's on sale and use it in recipes like this one - it saves a lot of time! Very delicious mac and cheese.

  • 31 Dec, 2007

    This is one of the healthy meals I will collect for my grandkids since the love mac/cheese, especially great for when we have a family reunion.

  • 5 Dec, 2007

    Squash ... unexpected, but worth a try - I'm adding this to my list of recipes.