Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Green version of a classic!

   I never had mac 'n cheese when I was growing up, so I have to make up for all this lost time. It's easy, affordable, and can be super versatile. I keep trying new flavors, new combinations, and new additions and I don't think I made one that we didn't like. Sometimes (and only sometimes) I feel guilty eating it... at the end it is mostly pasta and cheese... not exactly guilt free, so to make it "more healthy" I added bunch of spinach and cilantro. It looks cool and tastes even better. The perfect example that you can have a delicious and healthy vegetarian dish! Here is the recipe (serves 8):


*  1 lb whole grain elbow pasta
*  1 10oz bag fresh baby spinach
*  1 packed cup fresh cilantro
*  1 16oz container of mushroom, roughly chopped
*  3 cups fat free milk
*  4 tbsp butter
*  4 tbsp flour
*  2 cups shredded mix cheese (I used Asiago, sharp cheddar, mozzarella)
*  1 tbsp Dijon mustard
*  pinch of nutmeg
*  panko bread crumbs
*  1 tsp olive oil
*  salt and pepper


1. Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
2. In a skillet heat the olive oil and saute mushrooms for 5-6 minutes. Set aside.
3. In a food processor, combine cilantro and spinach with 1/2 cup of water and blend until smooth.
4. In a large pot, melt butter, add flour and cook for 2-3 minutes constantly stirring. Add milk, blended spinach, Dijon mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Bring to boil and cook for 5-6 minutes, constantly stirring, until thickens.
5. Add cheese and mix to melt it down.
6. Combine sauce with pasta and mushroom, transfer into a deep baking dish, sprinkle with panko bread crumbs, and bake at 385F for 10-15 minutes.

   You can definitely taste the "greens" in it, but it's so good. Very flavorful with big chunks of mushrooms here and there. I made mine a little bit more saucy, because that's how my hubby likes it, but you can adjust it to your liking.


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