Greek Style Baked Macaroni and (Feta) Cheese

January 9, 2014
By

Greek macaroni and feta cheese

Pasta is such an easy meal to make with little effort. Many times dinner for us is a bowl of plain pasta with a drizzle of olive oil, grated cheese and a salad on the side. When I was growing up in the states I never experienced the famous American comfort food macaroni and cheese. My mom never made it, instead we usually had pasta with tomato sauce or with meat.

Of course, I was jealous of the other kids who got to eat this Kraft macaroni and cheese thing so recently, I decided to try it out for myself and see what all the fuss is about. I bought the ready made packaged stuff, as I had read that many people loved that type. I have to admit, it did not do much for me. I tried to make a homemade version too and still was not all that excited. Maybe it was the powdered cheese or the milky taste. In any case, I did like the texture so I tried to recreate something to my taste, that was also a bit healthier as well.

For the cheese sauce I melted some feta with some Greek yogurt and a bit of low fat cream cheese. I added pepper and several herbs (oregano, parsley, mint) and a bit of olive oil (no butter here). I also added vegetables to this dish, it’s a great way to incorporate them in the meal, and you can add whatever you have on hand. And I use whole grain pasta for the most part for the extra fiber.

In Greece, I believe in the 80’s it became in style to make pasta “soufflés”. Well it really is not a soufflé, but that is what they call it, even today. Basically it is pasta full of heavy cream, heavy cheeses (not Greek), eggs and bacon all mixed and baked in the oven. People here in Greece still serve it at parties. It is one of those unfortunate foreign inspired, non-Greek dishes, Greeks just love making…

In any case here you have an easy light dish that seems rich and creamy but without all those fats. You can serve for a simple lunch or a side dish.

Greek Style Baked Macaroni and (Feta) Cheese

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ pound pasta
  • 3 ounces feta
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 2-3 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1 tablespoon mint
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 pepper chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped olives
  • Pepper/Salt to taste

5-6 side dish servings

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven at 350 Fahrenheit (180 C)

2. Boil the pasta according to the directions

3. In a pan heat about 1 ½ tablespoon olive oil and sauté the onion and pepper until soft.

4. Add the herbs and olives and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Set aside.

5. In a bowl mash the feta with yogurt and cream cheese until creamy. Add some pepper.

6. Once the pasta in boiled, drain and put back in the pot and add the cooked vegetables and the rest of the olive oil.

7. Add the cream sauce and mix well. You can sprinkle a small amount of dry cheese such as parmesan on top.

8. Pour into a casserole and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.

Photo by Elena Paravantes © 2013
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10 Responses to Greek Style Baked Macaroni and (Feta) Cheese

  1. diana
    January 9, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    This looks delicious! I love, too, that I can try to make it with goat and sheep dairy without any compromise. I think I’ll use the soft, spreadable goat cheese (like Chavrie, found in the US) instead of the cream cheese.

    And, too funny, I know exactly what you are talking about re the pasta “soufflés”. My family in Athens always make this for special gatherings or parties, and I have never had any idea why!!! :)

    • Elena Paravantes RD
      January 10, 2014 at 7:15 pm

      Thanks Diana!
      Yes, you can use any soft cheese.
      How funny, with those souffles.

  2. dimitrios pavlidis
    January 9, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    I have never tried the staff that comes in a box, because I am terrified with the idea… I tried the frozen macaroni and cheese, that don’t taste too bad especially when there is real cheese in it. But with feta, even if I have never tried it, sounds good and I think I am going to like it…

    • Elena Paravantes RD
      January 10, 2014 at 7:16 pm

      In my opinion almost anything tastes better with feta!

  3. Christopher
    January 10, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    hi Elena – this sounds great and very different. Could you provide some ballpark figures on the nutritional values? Also, just curious why add the cream cheese, is it for texture or to break the sharpness of the feta a little?
    P.S. I made your keftedes recipe, but made them biftekia instead (less work!) and everyone loved them. Thanks for the work you do, great stuff. Best, Christopher

    • Elena Paravantes RD
      January 11, 2014 at 10:41 am

      Christopher,
      Glad the biftekia/keftedes went well.
      Yes, I add the cream cheese for some texture. For the past about 30% of calories are from fat, most of the fat is unsaturated and about 300 calories. You can limit some of the calories by spreading out the cheese sauce to more pasta.

  4. January 17, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Dear Elena,
    What an inspiring web site! I learned so much. Thank you!
    Bought lots of in season vegetables on the market today.
    I’m sure I will find a tasteful way to prepare them on your site.
    Looking forward to your recipes in future!
    Thanks again and best from Crete,
    Hanneke

    • Elena Paravantes RD
      August 13, 2014 at 9:18 am

      Wonderful! Crete is beautiful! Thank you!

  5. Beepika
    August 11, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Your site is really good. Some amazing recipes and I like the way you photograph your dishes.

    However as a blog reader, may I offer some advice? I noticed that your blog entries sometimes “look down” on the food of non-Greek cultures. Agreed that you’re a patriotic Greek but you must be careful of the veiled message reflected in some of your writings: “No culture or food is better/healthier, etc than Greek”.

    On the whole, I do enjoy your site.

    • Elena Paravantes RD
      August 13, 2014 at 9:17 am

      Thank for your comment. I am against any labels (“patriotic” etc). This blog is an objective look at the Greek and Mediterranean diet. Of course as I was raised on the Greek diet there is an affection for this cuisine, however there has never been a message that Greek food is better, it may just be better for me, even though I have to admit that I love many different cuisines, as we are a multicultural family. In regard to healthfulness, the reality is that study after study has shown that this eating pattern is among the healthiest in the world. This is an objective observation, not an opinion. For more info about the blog you can read under “about”.

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