Just as Good! Lighter Mac and Cheese Casserole

Recipe Review

Want to slip at least one light(er) side dish onto your Thanksgiving table? Give this one a try! Every bite is so gooey and perfectly chewy that we doubt anyone will even notice the lack of heavy cream and extra cheese.

This recipe comes from chef Emma Nowell's personal food blog (her husband takes all the gorgeous pictures!):

Baked Macaroni and Cheese from The Chef and The Photographer

This recipe substitutes a mix of cottage cheese, sour cream, and low fat milk in place of the traditional roux and heavy cream (much like another favorite: Heidi Swanson's Mushroom Barley Casserole). This might sound like an unlikely mix, but these ingredients add a richness to the casserole and make each bite surprisingly creamy. A single egg binds everything together and two cups of cheese make the casserole gooey enough to satisfy any mac and cheese lover.

You can substitute whole wheat pasta for the white pasta, and low-fat ingredients for the regular versions. We also think that you could cut down the amount of cheese if you used a high-quality, richly-flavored cheese instead of a milder supermarket brand.

We threw some sautéd mushrooms and onions, wilted spinach, and diced sausage into our casserole to make it a more complete meal. Given all the extras, we baked our casserole in a 9x13 and were able to stretch the number of servings from six to eight people.

Verdict: delicious! For Thanksgiving, the pasta mix could be prepared the day or two ahead and then baked off just before you sit down to eat while the turkey is resting. We're also definitely adding this to our regular rotation of quick, make-ahead dinners!

Related: Eating Light: 8 Rich Yet Lighter Pasta Sauces

(Image: Emma Christensen)

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