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Three ways to make Macaroni and Cheese

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My friend, Natasha, of 5 Star Foodie Culinary Adventures, is hosting an event where she has asked us to further explore the flavours and textures of Macaroni and Cheese by deconstructing it and adapting it to our own culinary style.  You still have time by the end of the month to prepare your own version of Mac N Cheese and send it over to Natasha.

Makaroni and cheese is  a dish, I believe, everybody loves, especially the children.   My mother always used to boil a chicken so that she could cook the pasta in the broth, which makes it very tasty.  Then we would eat the pasta with lots of anari (called myzithra in Greece) or grated halloumi on top.  A very rich and flavourful dish, pure comfort food at its best.

Every now and then, I get a craving for some good, baked macaroni and cheese and although I have stopped cooking pasta in chicken broth, as I used to until recently, I still want the dish to be creamy and crusty, soothing, filling and satisfying but still trying to keep it as healthy as possible.

Although as I said macaroni and cheese is a rich dish, it is also a flexible dish that can be customized to regional products and cheeses and satisfy unique culinary tastes.  It can also incorporate other products like seasonal vegetables, meat etc., and be cooked in the oven or the stove top.

I have quite a lot of pasta dishes in my file of recipes to post but I have chosen only a few for today’s post.  The first recipe is an old one which is a quite rich dish.   In this dish, I have used graviera and smoked turkey and lountza.  Loutza is a traditional product from Cyprus with unique taste, made of  pork tenderloin, which after being brined and marinated in wine and coriander seeds, it is smoked.  Other times when I didn’t have lounza, I added some pasto and sausages, giving it a completely different taste.

Baked Macaronia and Cheese Soufflé (Pasta Casserole)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 – 45 minutes
Serves: 5 – 6
Ingredients:

  • 1 package (500 grams) hilopites or tagliatelle pasta
  • 1 cup smoked ham or turkey
  • 1 cup lounza
  • 2 cups graviera cheese
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  • 3 cups non-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup non-fat yoghurt
  • 3 eggs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C.
  2. Boil pasta al dente according to package instructions.
  3. Drain and place in a baking tin and mix in the smoked meat and the cheese.
  4. Whisk the eggs and add the milk and yoghurt. Season with salt and pepper and pour over the pasta.
  5. Sprinkle additional cheese on top and baked until golden on top.

However, as years pass, I am more conscious about what we are eating and I have changed my cooking habits and now try to avoid fatty products.


Greek style Baked healthy Macaroni and Cheese, Recipe by Ivy

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time:10 minutes + 30 for baking

 Serves:4 – 5

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet penne (500 grams)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups low fat milk (0%)
  • 1 ½ cups low fat cheese (milner, gouda, kerrygold etc.)
  • ½ cup low fat anthotyro
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Boil pasta al dente according to your package instructions.Drain and set aside or if you are preparing them earlier leave them in cold water.
  2. Heat the olive oil and add the flour, salt and nutmeg and prepare a roux.Add the milk and mix until it comes to a boil and mix until it thickens.Mix in 1 cup of cheese as well as anthotyro.Add the drained pasta, pepper and mix.
  3. In a casserole dish sprinkle some of the remaining cheese and add the pasta.Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top with a sprinkle of nutmeg and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees until the cheese melts on top.
  4. Serve while hot.

Finally, this is another slightly different recipe, which I made with chicken and cooked it on the stove top:

Quick, low fat Chicken breasts with Penne & Anthotyro, Recipe by Ivy

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time:20 minutes

Serves: 4 – 5

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet (500 grams) penne
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely cut
  • 1 clove garlic, finely cut
  • ½ cup white dry wine
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup anthotyro (divided, 2/3 crumbled)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons kefalotyri or dried myzithra.

Directions:

  1. Wash, drain and cut chicken into thin slices of 1 cm thick.
  2. Heat olive oil in sautéing pan. Sauté the chicken on both sides.Add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and then add the wine and 2/3 of anthotyro.Mix and cover the pan and simmer for about 15 minutes, until all the fluids are absorbed.
  4. Simultaneously boil pasta according to package instructions, which is about the same time.Drain pasta and mix with the chicken.
  5. Mix in kefalotyri and basil, as well as the remaining 1/3 anthotyro, cut into cubes and mix.
  6. Serve warm with some fresh cracked peppers on top.


Other relevant recipes:

Greek style lasagna with Anthotyro

Pastitsio Lasagna

Pastitsio the Greek Way

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