Low-calorie macaroni cheese
Skill level: Bit of effort
Costs: Cheap as chips
Low-calorie macaroni cheese is a really fab guilt-free option for anyone who loves this classic recipe but can't enjoy it on a diet. This recipe turns a high-fat family favourite into a healthy meal so you can still enjoy it while cutting back fat. It includes a layer of juicy tomatoes on top for extra flavour and vitamins. It's still got all the ingredients in it that make it our favourite comfort food, except low-fat versions have been used which mean you're cutting down on calories, but not flavour. Give it a go and this might even become your new family favourite - no one will know this is a low-calorie version!
- 300g macaroni
- 50g low-fat spread
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 50g plain flour
- 600ml (1 pint) semi-skimmed milk
- 100g reduced fat Cheddar cheese, grated
- 1tspn English mustard
- Ground black pepper
- 2 tomatoes, sliced
Use tubular pasta, like penne or rigatoni instead of macaroni and take care not to overcook it - it needs to have a little 'bite'. Instead of tomatoes you could have a layer of sliced leeks, courgettes and peppers, lightly boiled in water to soften them.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C, fan oven 170°C, Gas Mark 5
- Cook the macaroni in a large saucepan of boiling water for 8-10 mins, or according to pack instructions, until tender.
- Meanwhile, melt the low-fat spread in a large saucepan and cook the onion for 3-4 mins until softened, but not brown. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour. Return to the heat and cook gently for about 1 min, stirring, until the mixture has a sandy texture.
- Remove from the heat and add the milk a little at a time, stirring it in to blend. Heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and smooth. Remove from the heat and add about two thirds of the cheese and the mustard. Season with some pepper.
- Drain the cooked pasta thoroughly and stir it into the hot cheese sauce. Tip the mixture into a baking dish with a capacity of about 1.2 litres (2 pints), or use individual serving dishes. Top with the sliced tomatoes and sprinkle the reserved cheese over the surface. Bake for 15-20 mins until piping hot, then serve.