I imagine there are as many variations of macaroni and cheese as there are cooks. And, of course, that’s exactly what this is. Another macaroni and cheese recipe. Or is it? Hmmm. You might want to look a little deeper, because this beefy mac and cheese is low-fat and full of vegetables! And you could pack even more in there if you wanted. I’ve used lean ground sirloin, nearly 4 cups of vegetables and low-fat or fat-free dairy products in this special macaroni and cheese. If you have trouble getting your kids to eat their vegetables, then this may be just the dish for you.
All you need to accompany this hearty, low-fat macaroni and cheese is some bread and a salad. Let’s get started!
1 8 oz package elbow macaroni
1 cup chopped onion
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
2 tsp. minced garlic (optional)
1 cup shredded carrots
1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup low-fat (or fat-free) milk
2 tblsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, grated
I don’t have as many step-by-step photos for you this time. I was trying out a new lens on my camera and, well, let’s just say it didn’t go real well. However, this is so straight-forward a recipe I don’t think you’ll need much help. Really. If you do, just email me at [email protected] and I’ll be glad to answer any questions.
Preheat oven to 350.
Go ahead and start the macaroni cooking while you’re preparing the rest of the recipe. Just cook it according to the package directions. When it is cooked, drain and hold it while you proceed with the rest of the recipe.
Heat a large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray and add the onion, celery, bell pepper, carrots and garlic (if using). I didn’t have a bell pepper when I was making this, so I used several of these little sweet peppers. You use what you have on hand, you know? Besides I like the variety of colors.
Saute 4 to 5 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Remove them from the pan and set aside. Add the ground beef and cook until browned, stirring to crumble. Drain the ground beef (if needed) and return it to the pan along with the reserved vegetables. Add the tomato sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.
Add the cooked macaroni into the beef/vegetable mixture and stir to combine well. Spoon the beef and macaroni mixture into an 11×7 baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Place milk, flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Stir with a whisk until well blended. Cook over medium heat 2 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add 1 cup cheese, stirring until smooth. Pour the cheese mixture over the macaroni mixture and stir together. Top evenly with the remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Adapted from a recipe found on www.myrecipes.com