Pasta is an all-time favorite at home in all its glorious shapes and sizes and for a quick-ish meal I often just do a pasta and pesto with a salad. Other times, I try to be a little but fancy…well, it’s not really fancy but you know, jazz things up a little bit like my spinach mac n cheese.
I do love me a creamy mac n cheese but often I can only eat a little because it’s too rich.
For this recipe, I added a crunchy topping so it wouldn’t be so rich. A topping you say? Yep, guys a topping. You see, there’s no rule anywhere that says mac n cheese has to have a soft gooey cheesy topping. You can also switch things up.
This dish I think, is great on its own with a side salad and hey, if you have vegetarians at your home, this is a great meal that even a non veg can enjoy.
250 grams macaroni elbows
200 grams Italian spinach
100 grams butter
100 grams all-purpose flour
250 grams grated cheddar cheese
500 ml whole milk
200 grams of breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons green pesto
Salt and pepper to taste
First task is to boil the macaroni elbows according to the instructions on the packet, drain and set aside in a bowl. Next, thoroughly wash your spinach and then place it in a colander. Boil a kettle full of water and immediately pour this over the spinach. Drain the water by gently squeezing the leaves and then set the spinach aside.
Now for the ‘hard bit’. Place your butter in a sauce pan and let it melt over a gentle heat. Once the butter is completely melted, add the flour gradually and use a wooden spoon to mix this into a paste; NOT A DOUGH, GUYS. A paste. Once the paste has formed, gradually add your milk, still on a moderate heat, and use a whisk to stir. Keep whisking as you add the milk and soon you have a white sauce. Now, to tell if the sauce is ready, dip a spoon into the sauce and if the sauce sticks to the spoon, then it is ready. If the sauce is too thick (like mayonnaise) you can add some more milk. Add about 200 grams of the cheese into the sauce and again mix well using the whisk. Lastly, add some salt and black pepper to taste.
NB: We all have different preferences on how heavy we like our sauce. For this recipe, I’d say, don’t make it super thick because once you mix it in with the pasta and put it under the grill, it thickens and loses the creaminess of it all.
In a bowl, pour in your breadcrumbs, the remaining cheddar and green pesto. Mix well until all elements are combined and set aside.
Gently mix together the pasta, spinach and white sauce in your baking dish using a wooden spoon and sprinkle the breadcrumb topping over the pasta.
Place your dish under the grill at about 160 °C on the middle shelf for about 5 to 10 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheesy bits have melted.
Served with a garden salad and some crisp white wine