Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Healthy Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

I found today's macaroni and cheese recipe on the internet when I was cruising for a healthier version of the traditional baked macaroni and cheese.    The kitchn, an internet food blog, hosted a Best Healthy Casserole contest and today's recipe was one of the winners.  It caught my eye for two reasons.  The first was that it had artichoke hearts as a key ingredient and I LOVE artichoke hearts.  The second thing to catch my eye was the use of silken tofu in the cheese sauce. 

I hear you gasping, "Tofu!"  Yes, friends, tofu.  This recipe uses the very soft, creamy "silken" tofu.  I've become a fan of tofu through using it in my Pad Thai recipe. I was curious about using it in a macaroni and cheese recipe.

I have made this recipe twice.  The first time I used canned artichoke hearts because I had them on hand.  In my second attempt at this recipe I used frozen artichoke hearts, and I must say I prefer the frozen to the canned. 

Let's see how this Macaroni and Cheese with Artichoke Hearts is made, shall we?  I made a few tweaks to the original recipe which you can view by clicking on the link.

Big-Hearted Macaroni and Cheese with Artichoke Hearts
serves 6 to 8

Macaroni and Cheese with Artichoke Hearts Ingredients
  • 12 ounces frozen artichoke hearts
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni or small shells
  • 8 ounces silken tofu
  • 2 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tsp cold water
  • 6 ounces white cheddar cheese, shredded (I used 75% fat free)
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs with 1/4 cup panko, tossed with 1 T melted butter

Heat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with olive oil. Place the frozen artichoke hearts in a colander and run cold water over them for a few moments. Remove from the colander and set aside.

Heat a 4-quart pot of salted water to boiling and add the pasta. Cook the pasta for 2 minutes less than the package specifies, to just barely al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the pasta from cooking. Return to the cooking pot.   Cut each artichoke heart into several bite-sized pieces and stir into the cooked pasta.

Place a 10-inch deep skillet or wide saucepan over medium heat. Place the tofu in the pan, and mash it thoroughly with a fork or whisk. Whisk in the milk, mustard, salt, paprika and pepper. Warm the mix until bubbles form around the edges, then whisk in the cornstarch.  Cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes.  As it heats, it will appear somewhat lumpy. This is fine; just whisk occasionally as you stir. 

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the shredded cheese. When the mixture has thickened slightly, pour it into the pot with the macaroni and artichokes. Stir thoroughly, and taste for seasoning. If necessary, stir in a little extra salt and pepper, then spread in the prepared baking dish.

Ready for The Oven

Mix the bread crumbs and butter and sprinkle over the pasta. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy on top. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

I really like this recipe.  It won't be for everyone and you shouldn't make it thinking it will taste just like the macaroni and cheese your momma used to make.  No, this is a different macaroni and cheese, but satisfying none the less.  If you like artichoke hearts and are intrigued by the use of tofu in a macaroni and cheese recipe, please try this.  I think you will like it!

Try it, please.  I dare you!




  1. Love artichokes too!! I will have to try this now that I have added tofu to my "foods I like" list. (Still working on brussel sprouts!!!) Any idea what the calorie comparison is for this recipe versus traditional macaroni and cheese?

  2. I made a cheese cake years ago using tofu. NOT a big hit:( I haven't try tofu since. I think I will give it another try with this recipe, since you dared me to:)

  3. @ Amy, please let me know what the family thinks. 2 out of 3 in my "man" family group liked this recipe and I really liked it.
    @ Robin, not sure what the comparison would be. We need to compare a specific recipe against this one. I'll compare the traditional recipe from the "Joy Of Cooking" with this one and get back to you.

  4. Donna,

    How did you add the onion in the picture? I can't find frozen artichoke hearts, so I used canned and they were so bland and light colored they added nothing.

    I have a vegan pumpkin pie recipe using tofu. No one has ever said anything bad about it and it always get eaten rather quickly. I'll see if I can dig it up!

  5. I have had great difficulty finding frozen artichoke hearts as well. I found them in one local grocery store. They were Bird's Eye brand. I requested another grocery store stock them as well, but they haven't done so. I suggest my readers request their local stores to stock the frozen product.


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