Healthy(ish) Green Macaroni & Cheese

GMC Final.JPGI love macaroni and cheese! Give me blue box, homemade, or anything in between and it’s sure to be a hit! I’ve tried lots of different versions of this ultimate comfort food and this recipe has evolved to become my favorite! Not only is it delicious, but it’s also pretty and has a little added health with its infusion of spinach. Try it once and it’ll become your favorite for sure!!

GMC IngredientsGMC Ingredients Prep

Here’s what you’ll need…

  • 1 lb. Macaroni Noodles
  • 10 Tbsp. (or 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp.) Butter
  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • 2 cups Milk
  • 1 Yellow Onion, diced
  • 1 Jalapeno Pepper, seeds removed, diced
  • 8 oz. White Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz. Provolone Cheese, shredded (see note below)
  • 5-6 cups Baby Spinach (optional, omit if green food freaks you out)
  • Salt & Pepper

A little note about cheese. Many macaroni and cheese recipes will call for Fontina cheese. You can see in my pic above that on this particular day I used Fontina because Provolone was not available at my local grocery. You can use either, but I HIGHLY recommend using the Provolone. The Fontina tastes good, but it smells badly like feet and body odor. And no amount of cooking completely covers the smell. So, unless you want to pretend that you are dining with your smelly friend Fred from the homeless shelter (or you actually ARE dining with him), I recommend dodging the smell by using the Provolone.

And here are the instructions…

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large pot, heat water to boil the pasta and prepare according to package directions. Be careful not to over cook the pasta since it will be baked later as well.

In a small saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp. of Butter (please do not try to use Margarine here, as it has a tendency to cause your recipe to seem greasy as opposed to creamy). Toss in onion and jalapeno. Saute on low to low-medium heat for about 10 minutes. The onions should start to brown on the edges, but not burn. Set aside.

GMC Onions.PepperGMC Onions Peps Done

Now, add spinach to a blender and blend until smooth. Add up to 1/2 cup of hot water until your spinach mixture blends smoothly. Depending on your blender you may need to add more or less water to process. I HIGHLY recommend the Ninja Blender. I am so in love with mine!

Once the pasta has cooked, drain and rinse with cold water to stall any further cooking of the noodles. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan (or you can use the pot you cooked the noodles in), melt 8 Tbsp (1/2 cup) butter. Dump in the flour and stir continuously to incorporate. Don’t worry if this mixture is lumpy at first, it will become more smooth in time (see pic below). Continue stirring and cook on low-medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Do not allow this mixture to burn. If it does, start over.

GMC Butter Flour

Pour in milk and stir continuously. Again, lumps may form here but they will dissipate as the mixture warms. Heat on low-medium while stirring constantly (make sure to scrape the spatula on the bottom of the pan as you stir to avoid burning) for 5-10 minutes, until sauce thickens. At this point you may find yourself wondering if the sauce has thickened yet. Trust me, you’ll know. It’ll happen quickly when it does. Suddenly you’ll think, “Whoah! That’s definitely a lot thicker!”

Once the sauce has thickened, slowly add shredded cheese and stir to incorporate. Next, add spinach blend and stir until well incorporated (the swirls are so pretty!). If you want to add salt and pepper, now is the time to do so. I don’t cook with salt very often so I don’t add any and it’s great without!

GMC SwirlsGMC Sauce

It’s almost ready! Mix together noodles and sauce, and then onion/jalapeno mix. Stir until well incorporated. Pour entire mixture into a 9X13 inch baking pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

GMC Sauce and noodlesGMC post bake

Serve hot with your favorite macaroni and cheese side dish (Hello! Stewed Tomatoes!)!

GMC Final

Healthy(ish) Green Mac ‘n’ Cheese

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print
Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Macaroni Noodles
  • 10 Tbsp. (or 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp.) Butter
  • 1/2 cup Flour
  • 2 cups Milk
  • 1 Yellow Onion, diced
  • 1 Jalapeno Pepper, seeds removed, diced
  • 8 oz. White Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz. Provolone Cheese, shredded (see note below)
  • 5-6 cups Baby Spinach (optional, omit if green food freaks you out)
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large pot, heat water to boil the pasta and prepare according to package directions. Be careful not to over cook the pasta since it will be baked later as well. Once it has cooked, drain and rinse with cold water before setting aside.

In a small saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp. of butter. Toss in onion and jalapeno. Sauté on low to low-medium heat for about 10 minutes. The onions should start to brown on the edges, but not burn. Set aside.

Now, add spinach to a blender and blend until smooth. Add up to 1/2 cup of hot water until your spinach mixture blends smoothly.

In a medium saucepan (or you can use the pot you cooked the noodles in), melt 8 Tbsp (1/2 cup) butter. Dump in the flour and stir continuously to incorporate. Continue stirring and cook on low-medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Do not allow this mixture to burn. If it does, start over.

Pour in milk and stir continuously. Heat on low-medium while stirring constantly (make sure to scrape the spatula on the bottom of the pan as you stir to avoid burning) for 5-10 minutes, until sauce thickens. Once the sauce has thickened, slowly add shredded cheese and stir to incorporate. Next, add spinach blend and stir until well incorporated. If you want to add salt and pepper, now is the time to do so.

Mix together noodles and sauce, and then onion/jalapeno mix. Stir until well incorporated. Pour entire mixture into a 9X13 inch baking pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Enjoy Hot.

 

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