Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Spinach and Artichoke Hearts Mac and Cheese - 52 Recipes for Side Dishes

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 This is a little bit of a book review along with a recipe (Posted for review).

The recipe comes from The Chopped Cookbook: Use What You've Got to Cook Something Great .  This is the cookbook, published by the folks at the Food Network and based on their hit TV Series, Chopped.

BUT WAIT, before you pre-judge, this book does not feature odd combinations (Steak and Jelly Beans), Instead the book features recipes that use mostly items in your pantry.  Now, I am a coupon and "what's on Sale" shopper.  If I get a great deal and I happen to have used the item in the past, I will pick up a can, jar or frozen item just because it's on sale.  So, my pantry is pretty well stocked.  But even the hobbiest cook with only a sparsely stocked pantry will find great ideas with only a small number of ingredients to buy.

Like this dish.

I had everything in my pantry except the Artichoke Hearts.  You may need to add the Mozzarella and the Spinach to your shopping list but this dish is worth the effort.

Everyone loves Mac and Cheese.  And this one rates up there with the best.  The flavor combination comes from a likely spot... The famous Spinach and Artichoke Hearts Dip.  Made famous in countless Happy Hour menus and deservedly so.  Delicious.

Very easy to make, the sauce takes just about as much time as it does to cook up the pasta.  Reheats very well.  Best to add an extra bit of whole milk just before reheating.

Makes a great side dish... Can also be used as a Vegetarian main dish.  The leftovers are great for a quick reheat lunch and most of all...

Delicious! Enjoy!

 OK... Here's what I did...

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Mac and Cheese

  • 4 TBS (1/2 Stick) Butter
  • 1 Large Onion, Chopped
  • Finely Ground Black Pepper (To Taste)
  • 1/3 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 6 Cups Milk
  • 1 (10 Ounce) package Frozen Spinach, thawed, Chopped, then drained and squeezed as dry as possible
  • 1 (9 ounce) package Frozen Artichoke Hearts, Chopped, then Thawed and Drained
  • 1-3/4 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 2 TBS Extra Virgin olive Oil
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 Degrees, Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion, 2-1/2 tsp salt and a couple of turns of pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until golden, about 6 minutes. Stir in the flour until combined.
  3. Whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer.
  4. Start the pasta and cook according to the package directions, EXCEPT, cook 1 minute less for Al Dente texture. The pasta will finish cooking in the sauce during baking. Drain when time is up, return drained pasta to large pasta pot.
  5. Back to the sauce, while the pasta is cooking, add the spinach and artichoke hearts and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the mozzarella, remove from heat and transfer sauce to the pasta pot. Stir to evenly mix.
  6. Transfer the pasta to a large 3-1/2 quart baking dish.
  7. Toss the Panko bread crumbs with the olive oil. Sprinkle these on the top of the pasta in the baking dish.
  8. Bake until the filling is bubbly and the Panko is golden, about 40 minutes,
  9. Serve Hot and ENJOY!

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