Mac ‘n Cheese

We give our mac ‘n cheese a nutrition boost by adding pumpkin (for additional fiber and micronutrients) and using Neufchatel cheese and sour cream to reduce the percentage of calories from fat. The result? This recipe is a client favorite and is requested frequently! I hope you enjoy it as much as our clients do.

Note: Neufchatel cheese is a low-fat substitute for cream cheese, which is why we use it. Because of its lower fat content, it does not melt as easily, so blending it solves that and helps make a creamy cheese sauce!

Mac ‘n Cheese
Serves 8

1 oz. olive oil
1 oz. all-purpose flour
8 oz. Neufchatel cheese
12 oz. water
8 oz. 2% milk
6 oz. sour cream (low fat)
8 oz. pumpkin puree
6 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
6 oz. Monterey jack cheese, shredded
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
White pepper, to taste
20 oz. elbow macaroni, dry

Combine the Neufchâtel cheese, water, and 2% milk in a blender and puree until the cheese is fully incorporated.

Meanwhile, cook pasta per the instructions on the package, and then drain, rinse, and cool. Set aside.

To make the cheese sauce, place a 4-6 quart saucepot on the stove over medium heat. Once warm, add the olive oil and heat for one minute, then stir in the flour to make a roux. Whisk flour and oil until the consistency is smooth, then add the blended cheese/milk/water. Whisk until well incorporated, then whisk in the sour cream and pumpkin puree. Reduce heat to low, then whisk in the cheddar and Monterey jack cheese. If the mixture gets too thick, whisk in water, a half-cup at a time, until the sauce thins and is easier to stir. Once the cheese is fully melted, stir in the salt and add pepper, to taste.

Combine the cheese sauce and cooked pasta. Serve immediately, or place the mixture into a casserole dish, top with bread crumbs, and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Nutrition Information Per Serving
Calories: 590, Fat: 27g, Sodium, 530mg, Carbohydrates: 60g, Fiber: 5g, Protein: 24g

Chef Brandon FosterBrandon Foster began his life in the kitchen at the Best Western in Frisco, Colorado, almost 18 years ago. His passion for ingredients and drive to learn technique led him down the mountain to Denver, where he worked in two of Denver’s most fondly remembered restaurants, The Fourth Story and Mel’s. He joined the crew at Vesta in 2005 as a line cook and became executive chef in 2010, focusing on getting back to the roots of cooking through charcuterie and seasonal ingredients. Ultimately, Chef Brandon’s career highlights centered on events like Plates for the Peak, Invest in Kids, and James Beard Foundation dinners where he could play a role in helping people in need- a passion that led him to Project Angel Heart in 2016. Outside the kitchen, Chef Brandon enjoys spending time skiing, camping, golfing, and eating with his wife Larissa and their three kids.