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Lite Macaroni and Cheese (aka Russian-Style)

Lite Macaroni and Cheese (aka Russian-Style)

Lite Macaroni and Cheese

From the Moosewood Cookbook, by Mollie Katzen

1/2 pound macaroni or other small pasta (I used whole-wheat Penne)
2 Tbs butter
2 cups chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb sliced mushrooms (I used portobellos--yum!)
4 cups shredded cabbage (it sounds really odd to put cabbage in mac and cheese, but it was really quite tasty)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 bunch fresh spinach, stemmed and coarsely chopped (I used the pre-washed bagged kind)
2 cups cottage cheese
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 Tbs fresh dill, finely minced (also sounds odd for mac and cheese, but try it--you'll like it)
2 cups packed, grated cheddar (this is my only complaint with the recipe--I actually think it could use more cheddar. Of course, then it's not going to be so "lite" either!)
a handful of sunflower seeds (optional--I didn't use them because I didn't have them, but I bet they would be good)

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9x13 baking pan

Cook the pasta until tender and drain. (Use a BIG pot, you'll need the room.)

Melt butter in a deep skillet (this is going to need to be deeper than you think it is. AT LEAST 2 or 3 inches deep), and saute onions for 5 minutes. Add garlic, mushrooms, cabbage, salt, and caraway seeds. Cover and cook 10 minutes, or until cabbage is tender. Stir in spinach, remove from heat, and add to pasta.

Mix in cottage cheese, buttermilk, dill, black pepper and half the cheddar. Spread in prepared pan, sprinkle with remaining cheddar and sunflower seeds (if you use them), and bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes.