In this healthful version of a comfort food favorite, cauliflower is added to give the impression of more pasta, but with fewer calories. Cauliflower also happens to be a good source of the heart-healthy B vitamin folate, as well as phytochemicals that may have cancer-fighting potential.


8 ounces elbow macaroni

2 1/2 cups low-fat (1%) milk

3 tablespoons yellow cornmeal

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons chili powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

3 cups frozen cauliflower, thawed

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 1/2 cups fat-free cottage cheese

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.

2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, whisk the milk into the cornmeal until smooth. Stir in the mustard, chili powder, and salt, and bring to a simmer over low heat. Stir in the cauliflower and bell pepper, and cook until the pepper is tender, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in the drained pasta, reserved pasta cooking water, cottage cheese, and Parmesan. Transfer the mixture to a 7 x 11-inch baking dish. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown. Makes 6 servings

Curried Mac & Cheese Substitute 2 teaspoons of curry powder for the chili powder. Omit the Parmesan and increase the cottage cheese to 1¾ cups. Stir in ¼ cup of finely chopped store-bought mango chutney when adding the cottage cheese in step 3.

Nutrition Facts

per serving
calories 266
total fat 4.1g
saturated fat 1.9g
cholesterol 11mg
dietary fiber 4g
carbohydrate 40g
protein 18g
sodium 732mg
good source of:folate, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin, vitamin C

If you are carefully watching your sodium, be sure to read this before preparing this recipe: Sodium Intake and Salt in Recipes

From The Johns Hopkins Cookbook Library: Recipes for a Healthy Heart, edited by Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D. and Lora Brown Wilder, Sc.D., M.S., R.D.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 19 Oct 2011

Last Modified: 24 Mar 2015