3 Simple mac-and-cheese recipes

Mac and Cheese with bacon and peas, one

Mac and Cheese with bacon and peas, one of Three Simple Macaroni and Cheese Dinners made at the home of food writer Marge Perry. (Sept. 15, 2011) (Credit: Marge Perry)

Marge Perry

Newsday columnist Marge Perry Marge Perry

Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts,

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MAC AND CHEESE WITH BACON AND PEAS

16 ounces elbow pasta

6 slices center cut bacon

¼ cup flour

2 cups milk, divided

1 cup frozen peas

3 cups shredded light Cheddar

3 tablespoons butter, melted

½ cup panko bread crumbs

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Coat a 9-by-12-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Prepare oven for broiling.

2. Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain but do not rinse.

3. Cook bacon in a large saucepan and drain on paper towels.

4. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of bacon fat from the pan. With the pan off the heat, add the flour and 1/4 cup of the milk to the pan and whisk until smooth. Stir in the remaining milk and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture is near the thickness of heavy cream, about 7 minutes.

5. Add the peas, remove from heat and stir in the cheese until the sauce is smooth. Crumble the cooled bacon into the sauce and toss with the pasta. Transfer to the prepared pan.

6. Combine the melted butter, bread crumbs and grated Parmesan; sprinkle over the macaroni and cheese. Place under the broiler until the topping is golden, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 451 calories, 27 g protein, 47 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 18 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, 595 mg sodium.

 MEATLESS MACARONI AND CHEESE WITH VEGETABLES

14.5-ounce box multigrain pasta

2 cups (1-inch) broccoli florets

19-ounce can low-sodium white beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ cup chopped onion

1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms

¼ cup whole regular or wheat flour

2 cups fat-free milk, divided

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 cups reduced-fat shredded Cheddar

14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Coat a 9-by-12-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions. In last 2 minutes of cooking, add broccoli to the pot; cook until pasta is al dente and broccoli is bright green and crisp-tender. Add the beans to the pot and immediately drain in a colander.

3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium high. Add the onions and mushrooms and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer to a large bowl.

4. Place the flour and 1/4 cup of the milk in the saucepan and whisk together until smooth. Place over medium heat and add the remaining milk and nutmeg. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is the consistency of heavy cream, about 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese until melted.

5. Add the cooked pasta, sauce and diced tomatoes to the bowl and toss thoroughly. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and place in the oven until the top is lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 419 calories, 25 g protein, 53 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber, 13 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 539 mg sodium. 

PENNE, CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI CASSEROLE

14.5-ounce box multigrain penne pasta

2 cups (1-inch) broccoli florets

¼ cup flour

2 cups skim milk, divided

1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon dried thyme

3 cups shredded reduced-fat Cheddar

2 cups (10-ounces) cooked diced chicken breast

2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomato, drained

1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Coat a 12-by-9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions. In the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the broccoli to the pot; cook until the pasta is al dente and the broccoli is bright green and crisp-tender. Drain.

3. Combine the flour with quarter cup of the milk in a saucepan; whisk until smooth. Place over medium heat and stir in the remaining milk, nutmeg and thyme; cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is the thickness of heavy cream, about 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese until smooth.

4. Combine the pasta, sauce, chicken and tomatoes in a large bowl. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake 15 minutes, until the top is lightly browned. Makes 8 servings.

Nutritional analysis per serving 432 calories, 34 g protein, 47 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 12 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 630 mg sodium.