I used to hate mac and cheese. You know, the stuff that comes in a box, the one that so many of my friends lived on in college. I thought the box would taste better.
Just as in college,I was a minority in our household, Quinn and Nancy love mac and cheese. So, when we decided to live a healthier lifestyle, I took it as a real challenge to make one that was not only healthier, but one that I would actually like. This version pis up to both challenges.
I used a whole wheat penne, fresh broccoli, some grilled chicken breast. But what really made it stand out was the wonderful smoky flavor of a combination of chipotle pepper sauce and smoked Gruyère cheese. Gruyère is by no means a low-fat cheese, but if you don't use too much, you get a fantastic creaminess and a smoky flavor that melds perfectly with the chicken and broccoli. And, you get it for only 382 calories with 9 grams of fat and 6 of fiber.
You can leave the chicken out and have a great side dish or great vegetarian meal.
Smoked Mac and Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli
Makes 6 servings
8 ounces (dry) whole wheat penne
2-3 broccoli crowns chopped
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup white wine
3 cups skim milk
3 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon chipotle pepper sauce (you can substitute liquid smoke if you don't want a little spice)
1 tablespoon brown mustard
1 cup shredded smoked Gruyere
12 ounces grilled chicken, cubed
Chopped scallion for garnish
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta for 6 minutes. Add broccoli and cook and additional 3 minutes. Drain and return the pasta and broccoli to the pot.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until just tender, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook until it has reduced by no more than half, 2 to 3 minutes.
In a bowl, mix flour, milk, salt, pepper, mustard and chipotle sauce and add to the pot with the onion mixture. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until thickened to desired consistency. Reduce heat to low and add cheese and chicken and continue to cook until the cheese is melted and the chicken is heated through.
Pour cheese mixture over pasta and broccoli and combine. Serve topped with chopped scallions.