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Russian-Style Mac and Cheese

December 29, 2009

I think one of the best known recipes from Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious cookbook, a collection of recipes designed to be healthy and tasty that non-nonchalantly sneaks pureed veggies and the like into entrees, baked goods, and side dishes, is the mac and cheese.

Why is this the best known recipe from that book?  Because everyone is on the lookout for a creamy, baked pasta dish that tastes great, makes you feel at home, and doesn’t fatten the waist.  It doesn’t exist! Stop looking.  Seinfeld does, indeed, do an artful just of slamming her baked pasta full of pureed squash or carrots, and the end result is not bad.  It just isn’t mac and cheese.

That recipe is similar to this recipe I’m posting here, adapted from Mollie Katzen of the Moosewood Cookbooks, in one way: a delicious, fulfilling, creamy, baked pasta that is both loaded with nutrition and love.  That’s where the similarities end, though.  Where Seinfeld masquerades squash as cheese, Katzen imparts glorious green flecks upon her cheese with chopped spinach.  Where Seinfeld encourages sneaking around the importance of vegetables, Katzen emphasizes their potential.

I don’t mean to point out the differences in order to bash Seinfeld, we all know I’ve pulled my fair share of deception on the lovely Omnivore.  I really just mean to emphasize Katzen’s way of presenting an equally healthy, veggie packed, cheesy, baked pasta dish WHILE presenting it as such: pasta, cheese, and veggies.

Right after finishing this meal, the Omnivore said, “Wow.  That was so delicious, it can’t have been good for me.  It just felt so bad.”  Exactly the feel I was going for!  And I’m happy to say he’s oh so wrong (about it being bad for you, he’s right about it being delicious.)  By the way, you could really make this a one-dish meal by adding white beans, chick peas, or chicken chunks.

Russian-Style Mac and Cheese (4 – 5 large servings)
2 cups whole wheat rotini or elbows (4 oz)
1 T Smart Balance Buttery Spread
1 cup onions, chopped
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp caraway seeds
2 T fresh dill (or 2 tsp dried)
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups cabbage, chopped
1 bunch fresh Spinach, stems removed and coarsley chopped
1 cup Cottage Cheese (1% Milkfat)
1/4 cup sour Cream (reduced fat)
1 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded and divided

Preheat oven to 350* and lightly grease a oval baking dish.  Cook pasta in boiling water until just tender.  Meanwhile, melt butter in a skillet and add onions.  Saute 5 minutes and add garlic, cabbage, salt, and caraway.  Cook until cabbage is tender, about 7  minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in chopped spinach.

Stir in cottage cheese, sour cream, dill, and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese.  Spread into baking pan.  Top with remaining cheese and bake, uncovered, 20-30 minutes.  Let rest 5-10 minutes before digging in.

(based on 4 servings)
Calories 336.4
Total Fat 15.1 g
Cholesterol 37.8 mg
Dietary Fiber 7.1 g
Sugars 0.9 g
Protein 21.3 g

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 29, 2009 12:17 pm

    This sounds like a tasty meal I’d enjoy!

  2. suz permalink
    January 3, 2010 10:21 pm

    So my dad decided he wanted to cook the meal for his birthday dinner. He wanted suggestions for sides to goose and ham. (Why two meats that no one likes is beyond me.) I suggested mac and cheese. My mother offered to make it for me since my dad is wacky with his cooking, and I declined her offer, intrigued by the possibilities from my father. He ended up putting a couple slabs of mozzarella in polenta. If only he read this blog and had made your dish…

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