Meatless Monday: Macaroni and Four Cheeses

Make a big batch of mac and cheese (made with four kinds of cheese plus pureed squash) for Meatless Monday and bring the leftovers for lunch.
By: Michelle Buffardi

There's no way I'd be caught making a recipe that requires more than 10 minutes of prep time on a weeknight. When I get home from work, I eat really simple things like leftovers from the weekend, or easy-to-throw-together soups, salads and omelets.

But weekends are a different story. I like to cook up a storm on the weekends, eating and serving all kinds of fancy stuff on Saturdays and Sundays, usually big-batch recipes like casseroles and soups that I can refrigerate or freeze for busier days. Last night I made Ellie Krieger's Macaroni and Four Cheeses (cheddar, jack, ricotta and Parmesan), which doesn't actually take that long to make (43 minutes from start to finish) but it makes for good leftovers to take to lunch. It's made with pureed butternut squash (use frozen or if you happen to have leftover roasted butternut, mash that up and put that in there) so you can feel good about getting a serving of vegetables with your mac and cheese -- and it won't taste all squashy, I swear -- it's creamy and cheesy with a crunchy top, just the way mac and cheese should be. The recipe calls for elbow macaroni; I like to use whole wheat elbows or small shells, but you can use whichever you prefer.

Serves: 8
Cooking spray
1 pound elbow macaroni
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen pureed winter squash
2 cups 1 percent lowfat milk
4 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (about 1 1/3 cups)
2 ounces Monterrey jack cheese, grated (about 2/3 cup)
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon powdered mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until tender but firm, about 5 to 8 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, place the frozen squash and milk into a large saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally and breaking up the squash with a spoon until it is defrosted. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the mixture is almost simmering, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the Cheddar, jack cheese, ricotta cheese, salt, mustard and cayenne pepper. Pour cheese mixture over the macaroni and stir to combine. Transfer the macaroni and cheese to the baking dish.

Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and oil in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, then broil for 3 minutes so the top is crisp and nicely browned.

“More consumers in 2012 will become ‘Flexitarians,’ those that consciously reduce their meat intake for health reasons but still occasionally enjoy animal protein. One of the best evidences of this trend is the growing popularity and social media following of the nonprofit Meatless Monday initiative, developed in association with John Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health.”

-The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, according to a study done by  The Values Institute at DGWB

Do you identify yourself by your diet? Are you a flexitarian, vegetarian, vegan, carnivore . . . or do you prefer not to title your diet?
Keep Reading

Next Up

Meatless Monday: Roasted Squash Chili Mac

There are a million ways to make macaroni and cheese and many are meatless, like Rachael Ray's Roasted Squash Chili Mac.

Meatless Monday: Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Make Rachael Ray's cheesy baked macaroni and cheese with cauliflower for Meatless Monday.

Meatless Monday: Wheat Berry Salad

Wheat berries are an unprocessed whole grain, use them on this Meatless Monday to make Ellie Krieger's healthy, hearty salad.

Comfort Food Mash-Ups, Remixed: Mac 'n' Cheese + French Onion Soup

Cooking Channel and Food Network teamed up to mix and remix these favorite comfort food combinations, including Macaroni and Cheese and French Onion Soup.

Grilled Cheese Greatness

Celebrate National Grilled Cheese Month with these old-school takes and new-school twists on the always-golden sandwich.

Recipe Collection: Grilled Cheese

Grilled Cheese never goes out of style. Browse our many takes on the ultimate comfort food sandwich.

On TV

Holy & Hungry

7:30am | 6:30c

Holy & Hungry

8:30am | 7:30c

Holy & Hungry

9:30am | 8:30c

Cheap Eats

10am | 9c

Cheap Eats

10:30am | 9:30c

Cheap Eats

11am | 10c

Cheap Eats

11:30am | 10:30c

Unique Eats

12pm | 11c

Unique Eats

12:30pm | 11:30c

Unique Eats

1pm | 12c

Unique Eats

1:30pm | 12:30c

Good Eats

2pm | 1c

Good Eats

2:30pm | 1:30c

Carnival Eats

6:30pm | 5:30c

Carnival Eats

7:30pm | 6:30c

Carnival Eats

8:30pm | 7:30c

Carnival Eats

9:30pm | 8:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Carnival Eats

10pm | 9c

Carnival Eats

10:30pm | 9:30c

Good Eats

11pm | 10c

Good Eats

11:30pm | 10:30c

Carnival Eats

12am | 11c

Carnival Eats

12:30am | 11:30c

Carnival Eats

1am | 12c

Carnival Eats

1:30am | 12:30c

Carnival Eats

2:30am | 1:30c

Good Eats

3am | 2c

Good Eats

3:30am | 2:30c
What's Hot
What's Hot

Cheap Eats

New Episodes Wednesdays 10|9c

So Much Pretty Food Here