Starting out in the kitchen I was pretty lucky. I didn’t have a lot of flops and I had enough success to keep me motivated in trying newer, some more complicated, things. But let’s get real here for a second. Not everything I make turns out great the first time. Getting even more real, some things never quite turn out the way I want them to. I tried making pad Thai a few months ago…. We had pizza for dinner that night.
Of course, I’m not going to share things here that just don’t work, not really the kind of blog I’m going for. Keeping that in mind, I always have high hopes that whatever dish I make will be good and what I like to call “blog worthy.” Occasionally, a meal I expect to be good exceeds that expectation.
This Macaroni and Cheese is one of those meals. I found myself licking my bowl clean, going back for seconds and sneaking a few extra bites when putting the leftovers away. Plus there’s spinach in it, so it’s got to be healthy right? OK, maybe not. But turning one of my favorite appetizers into a meal this good is a win in my book. It’s also pretty easy to put together. Lots of stirring, and adding the ingredients in steps, but not at all difficult. From start to finish (including all the chopping) I think it took me just over 30 minutes.
*12-16 ounces macaroni shaped pasta
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup frozen spinach, excess moisture removed and chopped (mine was pretty finely chopped)
1/2 cup frozen artichokes, thawed and chopped
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup cream cheese
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
*I had ditalini pasta in my pantry, but macaroni, penne, or even rigatoni would work. With the smaller pasta pieces I used an entire 1-lb box. With a larger pasta, like penne, you may need less, which is why I give a range.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta to al dente, according to directions on box. Drain and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil and butter, in a stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat, until the butter is melted. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Next, stir in the spinach and artichoke and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute, then sprinkle in the flour and cook, while stirring, for another minute. Add the cream cheese and stir until mostly melted. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly. Bring to a simmer and cook until the milk starts to thicken, about 2-3 minutes, keep on stirring. Remove the pot from the heat and add the cheese in several increments, waiting until each increment is melted before adding the next. Finally, add the pasta.
If you wanted it to be more reminiscent of the dip, you could top the pasta with extra cheese and bake until the top is bubbly. I was just a little too hungry for that. 🙂
Inspired by What’s Cookin Chicago