Spinach and Artichoke macaroni and cheese

I went with a friend to a specialty macaroni and cheese restaurant in the Bay Area and left feeling completely inspired. I have a spinach artichoke dip that I frequently make and decided to mix some elbow pasta in just to see how it would turn out. This recipe turned out to be a hit. I have made many varieties of this recipe and have settled on the one that I am sharing today. If you are in the mood for a delicious different version of the classic that I previously posted give this one a try.

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Service size: 6

Active time: 13 minutes

Inactive time: 37 minutes

Ingredients:

16 oz elbow pasta

1/4 C.+2 T. vegetable oil

1/4 C. all-purpose flour

2 C. whole milk

1 C. shredded parmesan cheese IMG_4252

1 C. shredded monterey jack cheese

1 onion, chopped

8 oz fresh spinach, chopped

16 cloves garlic, minced

2 cans of artichoke hearts, chopped, drained

1 t. salt

1 t. ground pepper

1 t. granulated garlic

1/2 t. cayenne pepper

Procedure:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cook pasta according to the package directions.

3. When the pasta is done cooking, strain but don’t rinse, and season to taste. I used granulated garlic, seasoning salt, ground black pepper. Don’t wash the pasta pot.

4. Heat a pan to med-high, add 2 T. vegetable oil, fresh minced garlic, chopped spinach, chopped artichoke hearts, chopped onion, salt, pepper, granulated garlic, and cayenne pepper. Saute until vegetables are tender (approximately 3 minutes). When the vegetables are sauteed sit them to the side.

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5. Return the pasta pot to the stove and heat on med-high. Mix vegetable oil and flour together, stirring constantly for 3 minutes until it becomes a blonde roux and is bubbly.

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6. Whisk in milk slowly, whisking constantly until mixture is thick and creamy.

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7. Add the seasoned elbow pasta, sauteed vegetables, and cheese to the roux.

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8. Mix until combined and well coated.

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9. Pour into a greased baking pan, smooth until leveled, and bake for 25 minutes.

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10. When the mac and cheese is done, serve hot, and enjoy!

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Variations:

  • Whole wheat pasta can be substituted.
  • Any dairy substitution can used in lieu of the whole milk.
  • Any dairy free cheese can be substituted.
  • Any cheese can be substituted or added to this recipe. I have added 1 C. of feta to the top of the mac and cheese and it was delicious.
  • Frozen spinach can be added as long as it is defrosted and drained of excess liquid.
  • C=cups
  • T=tablespoons
  • t=teaspoons
  • oz=ounces

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