Lightened-up Mac and Cheese with Spinach

12 03 2012

I’m like a kid in a candy store when my new food mags arrive in the mail! Today was no exception, super excited when Food Network Magazine was waiting for me when I got home from work! Of course I just had to try something….hence tonight’s dinner. I had all the ingredients, and even added a few extras of my own, like working in the spinach for a serving of veggies. This really is a great, quick and lighted-up version to what can sometimes be a heavy meal.

Lightened-up Mac and Cheese with Spinach

The following serves 4 (Compliments of Food Network Magazine):

  • 12 oz fusilli or other corkscrew pasta (I used elbow macaroni)
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped (I used red onion)
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/3 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 2/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese and 2/3 cup shredded low-fat swiss cheese (I used all mozzarella)
  • 3 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, basil and/or chives (I used a combo of parsley and chives)
  • I also added a pinch of red pepper flakes and about two handfuls fresh baby spinach

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs. When there’s about 3 minutes left to cook the pasta, I threw the spinach in to cook. Reserve 3/4 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and spinach. I actually used low-sodium chicken broth instead of the water, but either would work.

Add the butter to an empty pot and melt over medium-high heat. Add the shallot (or onion and red pepper flakes) and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and mustard powder and cook, stirring, until flour begins to toast, about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and the reserved cooking water (or chicken stock); cook, whisking until thick, about 2 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium. Whisk in the sour cream, mozzarella, swiss (or double mozzarella) and 1 Tbsp parmesan cheese. Continue whisking until melted, about 1 minute. Mix the pasta, the sauce, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Transfer to a 2-quart baking dish. Preheat the broiler.

Combine the remaining 2 Tbsp parmesan, the herbs and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the pasta (I mixed the herbs into the pasta rather than topping, but did top with the cheese). Broil until golden and bubbly, about 2 – 5 minutes.

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