Brussel Sprout and Artichoke Mac ‘N Cheese

brussel sprout mac n cheese 2Maybe it’s because it rained yesterday. Or maybe it’s because I over indulged this weekend and am still feeling guilty ab it. Or perhaps it’s the fact that my apartment isn’t as pristine as I like to keep it and I haven’t had time to do anything about it. Or could it be that the weather keeps teasing us? Whatever it is,  I’ve got a serious case of the winter blues.

I’m craving farmer’s markets, bright greens, light and refreshing dishes, open windows, a good run outside, longer days and plenty of sunshine. Oh and a tan. Thank heavens it’s almost March, when spray tanning starts to become socially acceptable again.

In the meantime, here’s some comfort food to push you through these last days of winter.

I made a healthier version of mac and cheese the other night by using whole wheat pasta, Greek yogurt, skim milk, fresh mozzarella, brussel sprouts, artichokes and Smart Balance butter. It was pretty time consuming and at points along the way I wondered if I had really messed things up (see note below) but it came out tasting delicious. I’m having a small portion of it for lunch today, accompanied by a colorful salad.

BRUSSEL SPROUT AND ARTICHOKE MAC ‘N CHEESEbrussel sprout mac n cheese

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 of a box of whole wheat rigatoni (or whatever short pasta you fancy)
  • 2 cups of brussel sprouts, stems removed, cut in half length wise
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 can of artichoke hearts, quartered, drained
  • 1/4 of a white onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup of low fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup of skim milk
  • 4 oz of fresh mozzarella, drained and cut into small chunks
  • 3-4 cups of a variety of shredded cheeses (I used some store-shredded mozzarella, some parmesan reggiano, and fontina)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter (I used Smart Balance)
  • 1/2 cup of Panko bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Toss the brussel sprouts and olive oil in a bowl with a bit of salt and pepper. Lay the brussel sprouts in a single layer on a sil-pat lined baking dish. Roast them in the oven for about 30 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are soft and starting to brown on the edges. Keep oven on after removing.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In the same pot that you used to cook the pasta, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the milk, Greek yogurt, pasta, brussels sprouts, artichokes, fresh mozzarella, and most of your other cheeses. (Reserve some of your shredded cheese for the next step.) Stir to combine. (See note below)

Transfer all to a greased, 9×13 baking dish. Top with remaining shredded cheeses (I used mostly parmesan reggiano for this step) and panko bread crumbs.  Bake for about 30 minutes at 375, or until all cheeses are melted and bubbling, most liquid is absorbed, and the top is browning a bit.

Note: When I added all of my ingredients to the pot, they did not mix well. It seemed very liquidy and my cheese was super gooey… and not in a good way. I thought the dish was ruined and that I had just wasted a ton of food. But I kept going anyway. And once it was all baked, it was fine. It really came out quite delicious! So don’t be fooled by rubbery, gooey cheese and ingredients that aren’t combining well in the pot. If making this again, I would replace the store-shredded mozzarella with cheddar. And I might not even use the fresh mozzarella. I just find that mozzarella never melts quite the way I want it to in dishes like this. So experiment with your cheeses. And to save time, you could roast your brussel sprouts and cook your pasta the day before. 

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