Garlic Spinach Mac ‘n Cheese
October 21, 2010 § 10 Comments
A while back I caught an episode of Iron Chef America centered around spinach. I can’t remember who the contestants were, but one dish cooked that night has stayed with me ever since and has been begging me to recreate it in my kitchen. In an homage to that calling, I bring you a spinach mac ‘n cheese, with a heavy dose of garlic thrown in as my own spin on the dish.
Mac ‘n cheese has been both a handicap and a love of mine for many years now. College opened the door to culinary freedom for me. It also presented the first time in my life that I was able to cook rubbish food (my mother is an amazing cook who tends to make everything from scratch, and she can probably count the number of times she’s had a box of mac n’ cheese in her pantry).
While on my own I went a little wild, indulging in the classic Kraft version many times a week, and enduring the ensuing stomach aches (true story). There was a brief hiatus between me and my beloved mac ‘n cheese until I moved into a job where I basically couldn’t leave my desk at all during the workday. I would scour Walgreen’s for the one-serving microwave packs and upped the ‘gourmet’ quotient with chopped tomatoes or frozen spinach. Now that I’m in the saddle with a serious string of culinary work behind me (tell me you can sense the sarcasm), I decided to reprise the dish with the Iron Chef spin in mind.
I can only give an approximate range on the ingredients, this was one of those throwing random things in the pot sessions. If any of you have follow-up questions, please feel free to post them, and I’ll do my best to get back to you with more accuracy (I wouldn’t mind making this one again!). And by the way, it was delicious. The whole tray was gone by the end of the night.
Garlic Spinach Mac ‘n Cheese
-A bit less than half a pound of elbow macaroni
-2 cloves of minced garlic
-Somewhere around 6 tsps of Earth balance margarine (tried to keep it low-fat)
-Around 3 tsps of flour
-1 cup of pasta water (saved from cooking the elbow macaroni)
-4 tsps of half and half
-1 small handful of grated mozzarella cheese
-2 small handfuls of grated cheddar cheese
-2 tsps of grated parmesan cheese
-2 cups of frozen spinach (thawed)
-salt and pepper to taste
-red pepper flakes (as much as you can handle)
-2 handfuls of breadcrumbs
Cook the elbow macaroni. Save 1 cup of the pasta water.
In a separate vessel, melt the Earth balance on medium heat in a large frying pan. Add the minced garlic. Let the butter soak in the garlic for a short bit. Smell the wonderfulness. Let that make you happy and hungry. Whisk in the flour followed by the pasta water and half and half. This mixture should become a bit thicker, I believe this is called a roux. Add the cheeses, whisking along the way. Make sure all of the ingredients are incorporated without lumps. Add the spinach and incorporate well. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. When the sauce tastes amazing, add the elbow macaroni. Delicately fold the sauce into the pasta until all is well mixed. Pour into a glass baking dish. Dust breadcrumbs over the top and broil on high just until the breadcrumbs turn a golden brown.
My note of caution to you is that this main dish, though wonderful, is a slab of fat. To be fair to your body, have it with a side of steamed broccoli and a salad.