Sunday, March 20, 2011

Light Mac and Cheese Florentine with Turkey Meatballs

Ask my college roommates (or current)...I LOVE mac and cheese.  Let's just say it's my "morning-after-a-late-night" meal.  My ultimate comfort food.  So when I saw this on Rachael Ray on the food-network while getting my nails done (so cliche, i know) and learned it was LIGHT, I had to make it. 

Rachael Ray and I have a a love-hate relationship.  Love her name, hate how she spells it.  Love some of her recipes, and not the biggest fan of some of her others.  I haven't given up on her yet (although my mom may have tossed her cook books in the trash).  This recipe is a winner.


-1 lb cavatappi pasta (corkscrew)
-1.5 lb of ground turkey (or chicken)
-2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
-2 tsp fennel seeds
-3 cloves of garlic, grated
-1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-1 cup of low-fat ricotta cheese
-1 1/2 cups of shredded Parmesan cheese
-1 cup of bread crumbs (maybe more)
-2 (10 oz) boxes of frozen spinach
-3 Tbsp of butter
-2 Tbsp of flour
-1 cup of chicken stock (not broth)
-1 cup of whole milk
-1/8 tsp of ground nutmeg
-1 egg

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and boil a large pot of water for your pasta.  Boil your pasta according to the directions.  Save 1-2 cups of the pasta water by placing a bowl under the colander before straining the pasta.

While the pasta is boiling you can start your meatballs.  In a large bowl combine the following ingredients: turkey, salt and pepper, rosemary, fennel seeds, grated garlic, red pepper flakes, ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, egg and bread crumbs.  Mix up well!!

Now here's a trick for making meatballs.  Spray your hands with cooking spray (PAM) so you fingers don't stick to the meat.  Don't forget to spray the baking sheet as well.  Roll the meat mixture into 8 large meatballs and space evenly on the baking sheet.

Bake the meatballs for 17-18 minutes until they're done and juices run clear.  Meanwhile, thaw the spinach in the microwave according the box. Strain the spinach and get most of the liquid out.

The sauce for the mac and cheese was surprisingly good for the main ingredients being stock, milk and flour! Time to make it.  First, melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Be careful not to burn the butter...quickly add the flour, bit by bit, whisking until thoroughly blended. 

Cook the butter/flour mixture for a minute and then whisk in milk and chicken stock. 

Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Cook the sauce, whisking constantly, 5-6 minutes or until it has thickened.  You may need to turn the heat up to medium-high. 

Now stir in the remaining cup of Parmesan cheese. Turn the heat to low and whisk in 1 cup of the pasta water and spinach.  Mix well and toss cooked noodles. 

Serve the mac and cheese with a meatball (or two) on top!


  1. Want to freeze extra meatballs? Just found this great post on how to do it:

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Whats your oven set on for baking the meatballs? This recipe looks DELISH and Im excited to try it tonight!!!

  4. hungrymomma, 450 degrees. Let me know how it turns out!

  5. This was wonderful!! The meatballs were a big hit with my kids! Thanks so much!

  6. There are light boxes that emit a blue light that will stimulate your body and send the same signals to your brain light for depression


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