MACARONI, SPINACH MAC AND CHEESE WITH A KICK
A creamy macaroni and cheese with a sprinkling of spinach and a surprise—a flavorful, can't-get-enough-of-it kick!
• 1/2 lb. short, bite-size pasta
• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
• 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
• 1 1/2 cups diced yellow onion
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 cups milk, whole or 2 percent
• 2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
• 1 tsp. sea salt
• 2 generous cups shredded cheddar cheese
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 10 oz. fresh spinach, stemmed, washed, and torn into bite-size pieces
• 2 tbsp. chopped fresh marjoram leaves
• 2 tbsp. hot pepper sauce
• 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
• Sprinkle of sweet paprika
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 13x9" baking dish.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and stirring, cook pasta until al dente. Drain in a colander and transfer to a large bowl, adding 1 tbsp. of the olive oil and tossing well to coat.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter with the remaining olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn't brown. Add the milk, cream, and salt. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is reduced by half and coats the back of a spoon, about 20 minutes.
Remove the sauce from the heat and add the cheddar, Parmesan, spinach, marjoram, hot sauce, and pepper. Stir until the cheeses melt and the spinach is wilted. Pour into the bowl with the pasta, tossing gently to coat well.
Transfer the pasta to a prepared baking dish, being sure to scrape all the sauce out of the bowl! Bake for 40 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling around the edges and the pasta is a light golden brown on top. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle lightly with paprika and serve warm.
How to Do It ...You want the cheese mixture to surround every curve and groove of the pasta, so shape matters. Choose tubular pasta, shells, or bow ties for this recipe.