Sara doesn't always feel like spending hours in the kitchen. On such occasions, she prepares a simple, fast, healthy meal.
Mac & Cheese for Grown-Ups
Here's a healthier version of a favorite comfort food. Using low-fat dairy items cuts down on calories while delivering the same amount of protein. The Swiss chard adds a bit of fiber and some color. The best thing about this dish is that it's easy to prepare, and you can have it on the table in under half an hour. A quick and easy one-pot meal; this recipe is ideal for a weeknight dinner.
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- 1 package whole wheat rotini (or other small pasta shapes)
- 1 bunch Swiss chard, washed and chopped
- 1/4 cup low-fat cream cheese
- 2 ounces low-fat sharp cheddar, shredded
- 2 ounces low-fat smoked Gouda, shredded
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/2 cup 2% milk
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 3/4 cup diced tomatoes (optional)
- 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)
- 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
How to Prepare Swiss Chard
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- Fill a stockpot about half full with lightly salted water. Bring to a boil. Add pasta, and cook for about 4 minutes. Stir in Swiss chard (and mushrooms, if using), and cook for another 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Return pot to medium-low heat. Add milk, cheeses, Worcestershire sauce, and seasonings. Stir until melted. Add pasta (and tomatoes, if using), stir well until coated and heated through.
Tips & Tricks
- If you’re not in a hurry, after mixing in the cheeses, I recommend transferring the mixture to a greased casserole dish, topping it with breadcrumbs, and baking it uncovered in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. This step is not necessary, but it takes a satisfying pasta dish to the next level. One caveat is that baking it tends to dry out the pasta, so you will need to add more milk to the mixture prior to popping it in the oven.
- As for the Swiss chard, I usually use the kind with red stalks, but the chard with the green stalks doesn't taste much different. It also comes in a multi-colored stalk variety. Some supermarkets carry only one type, so it may vary by region. Our local chain grocery store carries chard in organic and non-organic, and sometimes the organic costs less.
- For anyone who has never cooked with chard before, and may be unsure of how to wash and prep it, see the short video clip above. Chard is very easy to prepare and cook.
- Not sure how to use the leftover chard? I used some in an omelet the next morning instead of spinach. I was worried the flavor would be too strong, but my husband and I both enjoyed it. Another suggestion for preparing leftover chard is to saute it in olive oil to serve as a side dish with a meal.
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© 2017 Sara Krentz