Skinny and Vegetarian, Mexican Mac and Cheese Casserole

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Mexican-Mac-and-Cheese-Casserole

Perfect for “Meatless Mondays” or anytime. This fiber packed mac and cheese has it all…It’s super rich tasting with great Mexican food flavors.  And, just a hint of spice.  If you want more, you can use a spicy salsa!  The skinny for 1 serving, 329 calories, 5 grams of fat, 8 Weight Watchers POINTS PLUS and 10 grams of fiber! I hope you get a chance to make this super yummy casserole!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook and Bake Time: 32 minutes (including the pasta)


Ingredients for Mac and Cheese:

2 cups (8 ounces) dry Barilla Whole Grain Elbows pasta or penne, see shopping tip

1½ cups fat-free cottage cheese

1½ cups grape, sugar plum or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1¼ cups salsa, I used Pace Medium Chunky Salsa or choose a hot salsa if you like it super spicy

1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon reduced-fat butter or Smart Balance Light, melted

1 egg, I like using Egg-land’s Best eggs

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon chili powder

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Fresh ground pepper, to taste


Ingredients for Topping:

1 cup fat-free sour cream or nonfat Greek yogurt (plain)

½ cup scallions, sliced

½ cup shredded (2%) reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend or cheddar cheese

 

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 9×9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. You can use a glass or metal pan.

2. Cook pasta and only cook for 6 minutes so it will not be overcooked.  No need to add salt to water!  Drain and rinse in cold water. Drain again.

3. In a large bowl, mix together cooked pasta, cottage cheese, tomatoes, salsa, beans and butter.  Blend in egg, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and pepper, to taste. Be sure to mix well.

4. Transfer pasta mixture to the baking pan. Bake casserole 20 minutes.

5. In the meantime, in a small bowl, mix together sour cream and scallions. Remove casserole from oven after 20 minutes and spread mixture over the top, using a rubber spatula. It’s a must to use a rubber spatula for spreading to prevent the casserole from lifting up. Next, sprinkle evenly with cheese. Place back in oven and bake about 6 minutes longer, until cheese is melted.

8. Remove from oven. Let casserole rest for 10 minutes. Cut into 6 serving. This casserole freeze great!

Makes 6 servings (each serving about 1½ cups)


Healthy Benefits

I love the fiber-rich whole grain pasta available in most supermarkets today. Barilla Whole Grain Elbows contains 6 grams of fiber for a 2 ounce serving!

Black beans really pack a punch when it comes to protein and fiber. On average, each cup has about 15 grams of both protein and fiber.

Thanks to the whole grain pasta and black beans this mac and cheese has 10 grams of fiber per serving!!!


Shopping Tip

There are several brands of whole wheat or whole grain small pasta that will work for this recipe. I used Barilla Whole Grain Elbows pasta. It looks like a macaroni shell. You could also use a whole grain or whole wheat penne or rigatoni pasta, if desired.


Serving Tip

I like to serve this mac and cheese casserole with a really simple side salad. I use spring mix, shredded carrots, shredded purple and chopped tomatoes. If you have a Trader Joe’s, I love to toss this salad with their reduced-fat cilantro dressing. In addition, add just a small amount of honey mixed into the dressing before tossing with the salad. A little honey makes this dressing taste yummy!


Weight Watchers
(old points) 6

Weight Watchers POINTS PLUS 8

SKINNY FACTS: for 1 serving (about 1½ cups)
329 calories, 5g fat, 21g protein, 52g carbs, 10g fiber, 795mg sodium, 10g sugar
FAT FACTS: for Marie Callender’s Macaroni and Cheese (1½ cups)
550 calories, 26g fat, 24g protein, 54g carbs, 6g fiber, 1646mg sodium, 13g sugar