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Macaroni Pie features rich, delicious cheeses

LINDA GASSENHEIMER/TNSBajan macaroni pie is served with island beet and carrot salad.
LINDA GASSENHEIMER/TNSBajan macaroni pie is served with island beet and carrot salad. TNS

Bajans love macaroni pie, but their own special type. While on a trip to sunny, tropical Barbados, I was surprised to hear islanders talk about macaroni pie. Said one islander: "I love macaroni pie so much that last Christmas we had a contest on our street to see who could make the best one." Another talked about her mom's version: "rich and creamy and filled with cheddar cheese." Here's a quick and easy version served with an island beet and carrot salad.

Helpful hints: Fresh diced onion and green bell pepper can be found in the produce section of the market and can be used instead of frozen ones in this recipe. Sliced canned beets can be used instead of quartered.

BAJAN MACARONI PIE

4 ounces small elbow macaroni (about 1 cup)

Olive oil spray

1- 1/2 cups frozen diced onion

1- 1/2 cups frozen diced green bell pepper

1 cup fat-free ricotta

1 cup shredded, reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, divided use

Several drops hot pepper sauce

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place a large pot with 3 to 4 quarts water on to boil. When water boils, add macaroni and boil ten minutes. Meanwhile, spray a 10-inch nonstick skillet with olive oil spray and saute onion and green pepper 3 minutes. Set aside. Combine ricotta and half the cheddar cheese in a bowl. Add hot pepper sauce and mix in the onion and green pepper. Drain macaroni and add to cheese mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Return mixture to the skillet and sprinkle remaining cheddar evenly over the top. Cover with a lid and let set over medium heat 10 minutes.

Yield: 2 servings. Per serving: 491 calories (13 percent from fat), 7.2 g fat (2.8 g saturated, 2.6 g monounsaturated), 12 mg cholesterol, 33.1 g protein, 68.6 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 644 mg sodium.

ISLAND BEET AND CARROT SALAD

1 cup quartered canned beets

1 cup shredded carrots

2 tablespoons reduced-fat oil and vinegar dressing

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Drain beets and arrange in a circle on a plate. Spoon grated carrots into center of plate. Spoon dressing over the carrots and beets

Per serving: 68 calories (16 percent from fat), 1.2 g fat (0.1 g saturated, 0.4 g monounsaturated), 1 mg cholesterol, 1.6 g protein, 14 g carbohydrates, 3.1 g fiber, 68 mg sodium.

Yield: 2 servings.

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