Vacation was awesome, but man, did it feel good to get back into the kitchen this weekend! My fridge is so full of delicious food for us to snack on throughout the week, and that makes me incredibly happy. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but my standard M.O. is that I cook like a banshee on the weekends and then nosh on the leftovers during the week. We do schedule a few easy dinners, but for the most part, our lunches and dinners on weeknights come from what I create in the kitchen on Saturdays and Sundays.
This weekend, I had a particularly successful go of it in my kitchen. I think it’s because I’d stored up a few thousand ideas over the past few weeks and was able to bring only the best of the best into production. I’m really stoked about the recipes I have to share with you over the next few days.
I can’t, for the life of me, remember where the inspiration for this twist on mac and cheese came from. Chances are, it originated from the fact that I am obsessed with all things pizza and wouldn’t be crushed if I had to eat it every day for the rest of my life. I’m always trying to find out ways to make things “pizza-y”, so it was just a matter of time before I waved my pizza wand at the most glorious of all comfort foods—mac and cheese.
As you know, most of my recipes are light (or at the very least, lighter), and thanks to a base of lowfat milk, lowfat cottage cheese and low amounts of good cheese, this dish is no exception. Each serving is a little over 300 calories of delicious, gooey, cheesy decadence. There is nothing light tasting about this mac and cheese at all. Babyface took one bite and said, “This is what mac and cheese is supposed to taste like.” BAM. He also declared it the best mac and cheese I’ve ever made. Which is saying a lot considering how much he loved this one.
The key to making it creamy and decadent is a combo of three Italian cheeses known for their flavor and melting power. Fontina is a soft, mild-flavored cheese that melts like a dream and keeps the sauce smooth and creamy. Parmesan adds a tangy kick to the sauce and shredded mozzarella makes the sauce thicker and adds a standard pizza taste. Feel free to experiment with your own cheese combos, but I promise this one won’t disappoint.
Pepperoni Pizza Mac and Cheese
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Makes: 8 servings
- 13 ounces whole wheat rotini
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cups lowfat milk
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dired parsley
- 1 cup lowfat cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded fontina
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
- 3 ounces pepperoni, sliced into thin strips
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Cook rotini according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and cook while constantly whisking for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Slowly stream in milk while whisking and whisk until well mixed.
- Add in oregano, basil, and parsley. Bring milk to a simmer, whisking frequently. Simmer for 5-6 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat.
- Stir in cottage cheese, fontina, parmesan, and mozzarella until melted. Then add in pepperoni, tomato, salt and pepper.
- Add cooked rotini to the cheese sauce and toss to coat. Pour into a 13×9 baking dish. Sprinkle panko evenly on top.
- Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until edges are bubbly and panko is browned and crunchy.