This mac and cheese dish has four ingredients
or less, depending on how you want to make it.
When the individual ingredients are fresh and well selected, the entire dish will be flavorful.
As you move into clean, healthy eating you start to take notice of the subtle flavors of food. Salts, cheeses, butter, and sugars are used to amp up the flavor of fast foods, processed foods and many restaurant foods. Piling on the sauces and condiments helps make food more enjoyable if the basic ingredients aren’t the freshest, or don’t taste great to begin with. But when cooking at home, you can make simple dishes with great flavor by using fresh and flavorful individual ingredients to start with.
This simple mac and cheese dish will be most flavorful
if you use fresh cheeses and good olive oil.
The best tasting and freshest ricotta cheese will be creamy when you mix it.
The best tasting Parmesan cheese is freshly shredded from a block of cheese (not in a box).
How do you know if an olive oil is good? Taste it on a spoon!
The kind of pasta you use makes a difference too.
If the pasta doesn’t taste good by itself, it won’t be a good mac and cheese.
In this recipe I use fresh pasta. Fresh pasta doesn’t absorb the oil as much as dried pasta does. It also tastes most like the kind you’d eat in Italy and feels like it digests better. The pasta I use comes from the Santa Cruz Pasta factory and is simply made with semolina and water (no eggs). In parts of the US fresh pasta can be on the more expensive side so, of course, you can use dried pasta.
Here you go!
My Simplest, Healthiest Mac and Cheese
Scroll down to see the ideal way to serve it and the nutrition information.
We’re frequently alone when we crave comfort food, so this recipe is for one serving. And, it’s really easy to make several servings of this for a family or group, just multiply the ingredients accordingly.
Ingredients (One Serving)
- 2 oz dried pasta or 4 oz fresh
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp fresh ricotta cheese
- .6 oz (about 1 Tbsp) freshly grated or shaved parmesan cheese
Using only one of the cheeses above works fine. (It will also lower the calorie content of each serving by about 60 calories.)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (optional)*
- Cook pasta (3 min fresh, 5 min frozen, 10 min dry)
- Put one serving into a bowl (1 serving of cooked pasta is one cup)
- Add olive oil and stir until pasta is coated
- Add ricotta cheese and stir again until pasta is coated
- Add .6 oz shaved Parmesan to the top of each bowl
*Eat immediately, or place in the oven for 10 minutes to crust the top.
You don’t need extra salt on this – the Parmesan cheese will provide it for you.
The key to getting full flavor in every bite is to stir the oil and cheese well
so it coats the pasta entirely.
Pasta is a side dish, not a meal.
Ideally, eat this mac and cheese with a couple servings of vegetables (fresh or steamed) and a protein like chicken, fish, or beef. This will maximize your satisfaction, reduce your hunger, and give your body a good number and variety of nutrients to run on.
Does the calorie count of this small dish surprise you? Imagine how many calories you eat when you go out for this kind of dish. You’ll most likely be served double the size, with quadruple the cheese (made from questionable sources) and 10 times the salt.
So, when you eat comfort food, it’s best to make it yourself!