This is a recipe that I found on the New York Times cooking website and have adapted somewhat. In this case it is not a healthier dish than the original but it is delicious and easy!
2 tablespoons butter (divided)
1 cup full fat ricotta cheese
2 cups 1/2 and 1/2
1/4 pound cream cheese
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Pinch cayenne (these are both optional--I actually forgot them)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated (I used Hook's white cheddar)
1/2 pound elbow macaroni (I used 2 different whole wheat pastas and it came out fine)
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
Use 1 tablespoon butter to grease a 9 inch square baking pan. In a blender, puree ricotta cheese, cream cheese, 1/2 and 1/2, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg, and pepper. In a large bowl, combine all but 1/4 cup of the grated cheese, the liquid mixture and uncooked pasta. Pour into the prepared pan. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate for a few hours.
When ready to eat, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake covered pasta for 30 minutes. Uncover and top with a mixture of reserved cheese, bread crumbs and butter. Bake for an additional 30 minutes. At this point it should be brown and bubbly. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.
I'm sure you could use other cheeses in this dish. A few of the reviewers of the original recipe suggested Velveeta which I would not use, but I think any flavorful natural cheese would be fine.
Adapted from NY Times.com, recipe by Julia Moskin