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Spicy Macaroni and Cheese With Jalapeños and Prosciutto Recipe

This version of the classic comfort food is low-calorie and packed with spicy add-ins.
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Ask Americans what they would eat for their last meal on earth, and most would likely tell you mac and cheese. Too bad restaurants and frozen-food purveyors start their macaroni and cheese with a base of cream and butter—a recipe for caloric calamity. This spicy mac and cheese is based on béchamel—butter, flour, and milk—which helps cut the calories in half. We add jalapeños and prosciutto for some spicy, smoky goodness; feel free to leave them out though if you're not a spice fan.

Nutrition: 480 calories, 9 g fat (5 g saturated), 450 mg sodium

Serves 6

You'll Need

2 Tbsp butter
1⁄2 yellow onion, minced
2 Tbsp flour
3 cups milk
2 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 lb elbow macaroni, penne, or shells
1⁄4 cup chopped pickled jalapeños
2 oz prosciutto or ham, cut into thin strips
1⁄2 cup panko bread crumbs
1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan

How to Make It

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent (but not browned), about 3 minutes. Add the flour and stir to incorporate into the butter.
  3. Pour in the milk a few tablespoons at a time, using a whisk to incorporate the flour and prevent lumps from forming.
  4. When all the milk has been added, allow the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes, until it begins to thicken. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until al dente, drain, and return to the pot. Add the cheese sauce, jalapeños, and prosciutto and stir to fully incorporate.
  6. Divide the mixture among 6 individual crocks or pour into a large baking dish. Top with the bread crumbs and sprinkle with the Parmesan.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil until the bread crumbs are golden brown and crispy, about another 3 minutes.

Eat This Tip

Classic Cheddar-based mac and cheese is tough to beat, but besides having high calorie and fat counts, it also provides little redeeming nutrition. Boost the health profile (and the hunger-squashing potential) of your mac and cheese by adding any of the following to the pasta when you toss it with the cheese sauce.

  • 1 cup caramelized onions
  • 2 cups roughly chopped or cherry tomatoes
  • 6 oz grilled chicken and 1 cup sautéed mushrooms
  • 2 cups chopped steamed or sautéed broccoli

This recipe (and hundreds more!) came from one of our Cook This, Not That! books. For more easy cooking ideas, you can also buy the book!

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