Hearty Fall Cookery
Here is a refreshing and healthier alternative, a Mac & Cheese with FLAVA!
I have used spinach, but the recipe easily lends itself to an assortment of other options such as pumpkin, squash, baby kale, watercress, arugula…mushrooms. So get creative with what is seasonal and brighten up an otherwise repetitious rendition of the same old…same old Mac & Cheese.
Mac & Cheese with Spinach Serves 4
Preheat oven to 375F/190C
- 1 large bunch of spinach, including stems
- 2 cups whole milk, heated
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 4 oz dried pasta (any shape)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or olive oil)
- 2 tablespoons unbleached flour
- ½ cup grated goat feta (or Greek feta)
- ½ cup grated Paremegiano salt and pepper to taste
Rinse the spinach and blanch in salted boiling water for 6-8 minutes until tender. Remove the spinach from the pot with tongs and set aside to drain in a colander, reserving the cooking water in the pot for cooking the pasta.
Chop the spinach and place in a blender jar. Add the milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Pulse and then blend for several minutes until the mixture is pureed and smooth. Set aside.
Bring the spinach cooking water back to a boil and add the dry pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Melt the butter (or oil) in a saucepan (large enough to hold the sauce and pasta) and when bubbling sprinkle the flour over the surface of the butter and whisk together to form a roux (paste). Continue to cook while whisking for about 3 minutes, adjusting the heat downward if the roux begins to darken.
Pour a cup of the spinach puree into the roux and stir briskly until it is well combined and smooth. Gradually add the remaining spinach puree and continue to stir as the mixture comes back up to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the mixture thickens and remove from the heat.
Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss together to combine. Add half of the cheeses and fold in.
Place the mixture in a lightly buttered or oiled baking dish and sprinkle the remaining cheeses over the top. Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and the sauce is bubbling up around the sides of the baking dish.
Remove from the oven and serve at once!