With all the comfort and flavor of the classic recipe, this version uses whole-wheat pasta layered with colorful spinach to maximize good-for-you fiber. Lots of tangy Cabot Sharp Cheddar and creamy Cabot No Fat Cottage Cheese make it a sure-fire family hit.
3 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 (16-ounce or 10-ounce) package frozen spinach
1 ¾ cups lowfat milk, divided
3 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
8 ounces Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar, grated (about 2 cups)
1 cup Cabot No Fat Cottage Cheese
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups whole-wheat elbow macaroni or penne (8 ounces)
BRING large pot of lightly salted water to boil for cooking pasta. Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat 8-inch square or similar 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
MIX bread crumbs, oil and paprika in a small bowl; set aside. Cook spinach according to package directions. Drain and refresh under cold water; press out excess moisture. Set aside.
HEAT 1 ½ cups of milk over medium-high heat in a large, heavy sauce pan until steaming.
WHISK remaining ¼ cup milk and flour in small bowl until smooth; add to hot milk and cook, whisking constantly, until sauce simmers and thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheddar until melted.
STIR in cottage cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
COOK pasta in boiling water for 4 minutes, or until not quite tender. (It will continue to cook during baking.) Drain and add to cheese sauce; mix well.
SPREAD half of pasta mixture in prepared baking dish. Spoon reserved spinach on top. Top with remaining pasta and sprinkle with reserved breadcrumb mixture.
BAKE until bubbly and golden, 25 to 30 minutes.
Dish can be prepared in advance. Prior to baking, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in refrigerator, if necessary, then bake for 35 to 45 minutes.
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