Turn mac and cheese from an indulgent side into a well rounded meal with the addition of spinach. It helps balance out the richness of the cheese sauce, so your palate never gets bored.
Sure, Kermit said that it’s not easy being green…but for this mac and cheese it is! Whip up a simple cheese sauce and swirl in some spinach and pasta before baking it to perfection. Your kids will go crazy for this baked spinach mac and cheese. Want to add some protein into your baked spinach mac and cheese? Stir in some bacon, turkey or ham for a smokey flavor that really makes the dish sing. Heck, even some ground beef wouldn’t be bad!
Shells are one of the best pasta shapes for this dish because each little hollow scoops up plenty of cheesy sauce (in this case, made from cheddar) but you really can’t go wrong with elbows or any other shape for that matter. This homemade mac and cheese is made the old fashioned way, with a floury roux-based cheese sauce which takes a bit longer but is worth the extra time. Your tastebuds will thank you for your trouble.
Baked Spinach Mac and Cheese for a dinner win!
Cheesy Baked Spinach Mac and Cheese
Bake some spinach into your standard (and yummy!) mac and cheese to keep the kiddos full, healthy, and happy.
By Sarah Walker Caron
unsalted butter: 2 tablespoons
all-purpose flour: 2 tablespoons
milk: 2 cups
dry ground mustard: 1 teaspoon
kosher salt and pepper: to taste
shredded sharp cheddar cheese: 2 cups, divided
frozen chopped spinach: 1 cup
medium pasta shells: 1/2 lb, prepared
butter crackers: 1/3 cup, crushed
Step 1: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once it’s completely melted, add the flour. Whisk well to combine, taking special care to scrape the sides as needed. Continue, whisking constantly, until the flour is fully combined with the butter and turns a light amber color.
Step 2: Add the milk a little at a time, whisking constantly, until fully combined. Cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened---about 5--7 minutes. Whisk in the dry ground mustard, salt, and pepper (adjusting seasoning as needed). Add 1 ½ cups of cheese, and whisk into the sauce. Add the spinach and stir to combine. Cook for 3--5 minutes, until the spinach softens.
Step 3: Add the cooked pasta to an oven-safe 8x8 inch baking dish. Pour the sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup of cheese and the cracker crumbs.
Step 4: Bake for 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly at the pan edges.