Once you discover how easy and delicious homemade macaroni and cheese is, you might never go back to boxed. The best part about it is that most of the ingredients are probably already in your pantry, and you can use just about any kind of shredded cheese you have on hand. Here, we add mushrooms and spinach for fresh flavor, but you can also leave them out for a simpler, more traditional mac and cheese.
Spinach and Mushroom Macaroni and Cheese
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 lb. (250 g) elbow macaroni
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 4 oz. (125 g) button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 3 cups (3 oz./90 g) baby spinach leaves
- 2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml) whole milk
- 4 Tbs. (2 oz./60 g) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup (11/2 oz./45 g) all-purpose flour
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- 8 oz. (250 g) sharp white Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
- 4 oz. (125 g) Gruyère cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) panko
1. Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C).
2. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook according to the package directions. Drain well in a colander, rinse under cold water and drain again. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl. Set aside.
3. In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until the mushrooms are browned and tender, about 4 minutes. Add the spinach to the pan and sauté until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the contents of the pan to the bowl with the pasta.
4. In a small saucepan, warm the milk over low heat. In another saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk the flour into the melted butter and continue whisking until it turns light brown, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the warmed milk and bring to a very low simmer. Cook the sauce, stirring often, until it begins to thicken, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
5. Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir to combine. Stir in the cheeses and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a 4-quart (4-l) baking dish and sprinkle evenly with the panko.
6. Bake until hot throughout, the sauce is bubbling, and the bread crumbs are lightly browned, about 25 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve. Serves 6.
For this and more ideas for pasta dishes you’ll want to serve every night of the week, check out our new Pasta Night, by Kate McMillan