Serving mac and cheese in the skillet it's baked in amps up the homey comfort factor. The secret ingredient in this bread crumb-topped beauty is the finely chopped cauliflower that blends in subtly with the pasta. Using three different cheeses guarantees maximum flavor and meltability.
Recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger
Skillet Mac and Cheese
Yield:
Serves 6
Level:
Easy

Nutrition Info

Healthy
Yield:
Serves 6
Level:
Easy

Nutrition Info

Healthy

Ingredients

  • 2 cups 1-inch-wide cauliflower florets
  • 1 1/4 cups Light-and-Crisp Whole-Wheat Bread Crumbs (recipe below)
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese 
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil 
  • 3 cups cold low-fat (1%) milk 
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (5 ounces) 
  • 1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (1 ounce) 
  • 2 teaspoons mustard powder 
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) whole-grain elbow macaroni, cooked for 3 minutes less than the package directions (about 3 cups cooked) 
  • Nonstick cooking spray
Light-and-Crisp Whole-Wheat Bread Crumbs:
  • 4 slices whole wheat sandwich bread (about 1 ounce each)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the cauliflower into a steamer basket fitted over the pot, cover, and steam until just tender, about 5 minutes. Finely chop the steamed cauliflower.

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, and oil.

In a large saucepan, whisk together the milk and flour until the flour is dissolved. Whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a gentle boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the mixture thickens slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cheddar, Gruyere, mustard powder, paprika, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Whisk until the cheeses are melted and the mixture is smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chopped cauliflower and macaroni and stir until well coated.

Spray an ovenproof 10-inch high-sided skillet with cooking spray. Pour the mixture into the prepared skillet. Sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture, place on a baking sheet, and bake until the top is browned and the cheese is bubbly, 35 to 40 minutes.

Light-and-Crisp Whole-Wheat Bread Crumbs:

Homemade bread crumbs are one of those "chef's secrets" ¿ important but often overlooked detail that can make a dish. These easy-to-make crumbs are flaky, mild, and versatile¿they don't have that heavy whole-wheat taste and dense texture that most store-bought brands have. Since bread crumbs are a comfort-food cornerstone used in everything from cutlet coatings to casserole toppings, it's key to have the best.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

Place the bread in a food processor and process until fine crumbs form, 25 to 30 seconds. Place the crumbs on a baking sheet, spreading them evenly. Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Store the bread crumbs in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

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