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Lighter Macaroni and Cheese


These individual mac-and-cheese casseroles call for pungent Parmesan and extra-sharp cheddar, which means the noodles get away with less-than-usual amounts of cheese. Low-fat milk, chicken stock, and olive oil keep the sauce creamy.

  • Servings: 8

Source: Martha Stewart Living, January 2006


  • 6 small vine-ripened tomatoes (3-inch) cut into twenty-four 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, plus sprigs for sprinkling
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 slices white sandwich bread, with crust
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups low-fat (1 percent) milk
  • 8 ounces (about 2 1/4 cups) extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 ounce (about 1/2 cup) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread tomatoes in a single layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle each sheet with 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until tomatoes have softened, about 20 minutes. (Leave oven on.)

  2. Process bread in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with remaining tablespoon oil in amedium skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.

  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta. Cook pasta until almost al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, and run under cold water to stop cooking. Transfer to a large bowl; set aside.

  4. Whisk 1/2 cup stock into the flour in a medium bowl; set aside. Melt remaining tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in nutmeg, cayenne, remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add milk and remaining 1 1/2 cups stock. Whisk in flour mixture. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Reduce to a simmer. Cook 8 minutes, whisking frequently. Add cheeses; cook, stirring, until melted. Pour over macaroni, stirring to combine.

  5. Put eight 4 1/2-by-1 1/4-inch ramekins on a baking sheet. Put 2 tomato slices in bottom of each ramekin. Divide macaroni mixture evenly among ramekins. Top each with a tomato slice. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and thyme sprigs. Bake until bubbling and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Reviews Add a comment

  • cafeaulait
    25 JAN, 2015
    To make 1/2 a recipe simple reduce All into half amounts.The nutmeg is traditional in All Macaroni Cheese recipes. Omit this & cayenne powder if not enjoyed yet does add flavour. Bread is traditional on top of Macaroni Cheese. When full fats are not used Herbes & Spices take a well deserved place for even Salt.
  • Conniehildebrand
    1 JAN, 2012
    PLEASE include nutrition info....I'm a Weight Watcher.....
  • Yellowbirdy1
    23 JAN, 2011
    What's up with the nutmeg? Nutmeg has a strong taste and I don't want it in my Mac and Cheese.
  • SuzieQ750
    6 JAN, 2011
    I just put this into my Weight Watchers Recipe builder and it's 13 points. Not something I would call "lighter". I'm not sure what the bread is all about, I think the macaroni should be enough. You could probably do half of everything but that would still give you 4 servings.
  • karen44
    5 JAN, 2010
    I completely agree about the need for nutritional information - especially for these recipes that are supposed to be "lighter." It's hard to judge how light they really are without information regarding calories/fat grams per serving.
  • Tahela
    3 DEC, 2009
    how does one reduce the amount for smaller serving? there is only 2 of us. Don't like making this much up at one time.
  • swainky
    12 NOV, 2009
    I agree. Nutritional information would be really helpful.
  • Julia17
    12 MAY, 2009
    Can we get nutritional information for these online recipes, please?
  • MissLizMarie
    24 MAR, 2009
    Never one to follow directions i took a few shortcuts on this recipe to accomodate with what i already had and it still turned out great. I used rye bread instead of white, didn't add cayenne or the tomatoes, and made it casserole style instead of individual ramekins. Add crushed red pepper-Delish!
  • MS10498747
    28 FEB, 2009
    I make this with the Chicken Tenders with Creamy Mustard Sauce for one of my husband's favorite meals. We leave out the tomatoes because that just sounds gross! I also use boxed bread crumbs instead of making them. I like that this recipe tastes creamy but it's much healthier than regular macaroni and cheese! The thyme is a nice touch.