Celebrity Chef: “Deregulated” Macaroni and Cheese

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup cottage cheese
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Pinch cayenne
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
½ pound elbow pasta, uncooked
½ package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
½ cup bacon pieces

1. Heat oven to 375°F and position an oven rack in upper third of oven. Grease a 9-inch round or square baking pan.

2. In a blender, purée cottage cheese, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg and salt and pepper together, then add milk and blend.

3. Set aside ¼ cup grated cheese for topping. In a large bowl, combine remaining grated cheese, milk mixture, uncooked pasta, spinach and bacon pieces. Pour into prepared pan, cover tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes.

4. Uncover pan, stir gently, sprinkle with reserved cheese and dot with butter. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes more, until browned. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

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