Americans love their macaroni and cheese and continue to find ways to tweak recipes for it. We’re blowing a timely kiss at this variation for several reasons: It is quick, its saucemaking has been simplified, and, by adding another beloved food to it, it offers more protein and less fat than a typical rendition.
Its half-cup of hummus can be almost undetectable when the pureed chickpea dip is plain. But we found in testing that a red pepper hummus lifted the flavor and enriched the cheesy color as well. Stirred in right at the end, the hummus adds body without disrupting the creaminess we crave. If you’re skeptical about this, start with a quarter-cup of it, and taste as you add more.
Its sauce promises to be smooth, because the cheese is gradually melted into a pan of warm milk. A small mixture of flour and milk (a slurry, in culinary terms) adds just enough thickening velvet to coat the cooked pasta.
Choose a pepper Jack instead of a simple Colby cheese for a further flavor boost. Then share the love.
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4 to 6 servings
Serve with peas or a green salad, or roasted tomato halves.
12 ounces dried elbow macaroni or other short pasta
1½ cups low-fat milk, or more as needed
2 tablespoons flour
2 to 3 cups shredded mild or sharp cheddar, Colby or Monterey Jack cheese (see headnote)
¼ teaspoon powdered mustard
½ cup plain or red pepper hummus (homemade or store-bought; see headnote)
Bring a large pot of water (about 4 quarts) to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch or two of salt, then the pasta. Cook according to the package directions, just until al dente.
Meanwhile, warm 1 cup of the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Combine the remaining ½ cup of milk and the flour in a liquid measuring cup, whisking away any lumps. As soon as you begin to see a little steam rising from the heated milk, whisk in the milk-flour mixture. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, to form a slightly thickened sauce that has the consistency of heavy cream.
Reduce the heat to low; begin stirring in the cheese (to taste), a cup at a time, letting each addition melt before adding the next. Add ½ teaspoon salt and the powdered mustard, stirring to form a creamy, smooth sauce. Remove from the heat.
Drain the pasta and place in a mixing bowl. Pour in the warm sauce, then add the hummus and stir to thoroughly incorporate. If the mac and cheese consistency seems too thick, stir in up to ¼ cup more milk.
Adapted from a recipe on TheKitchn.com.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
NUTRITIONAL ANALYSIS | Per serving (based on 6): 440 calories, 19 g protein, 52 g carbohydrates, 17 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 550 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 6 g sugar
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