Monday, February 4, 2013

Spinach and Broccoli Mac & Cheese

Who does not love Mac & Cheese - its the ultimate comfort food. Deliciously simple and creamy with loads of cheese, Mac & Cheese in it many avatars has won the hearts of kids and adults alike. We love Mac & Cheese around here, but I always try to make a variation around this theme. This recipe is something that came to me as I sat down to plan dinner last week. I wanted to make something with broccoli and spinach, maybe add it to a pasta sauce or make a pesto of it.

As I started bringing out the ingredients I was struck with a massive craving for Mac & Cheese. The question now became how do I combine the Mac & Cheese with spinach and broccoli. Shred the veggies and add them to the sauce. Make a side serving of vegetables for the pasta dish. Nah - I wanted to wrap the taste of the vegetables around the Mac & Cheese. So this is what I made.

3/4 cup frozen spinach
1 cup broccoli florets
2 cloves garlic
1 large onion, chopped fine
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 cup sweet corn, blanched
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup shredded cheese
11/2 cups milk
1 tbsp cornflour
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
11/2 cups uncooked macaroni

  1. Cook the macaroni in plenty of water as per the instructions on the packet. Remove one cup of water the macaroni cooked in. Set aside. Drain the macaroni in a colander and rinse under cool water. 
  2. Blanch the broccoli and spinach. Cool and blend together with the garlic and black pepper.
  3. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan. Add the onion and the jalapeno pepper. Cook on a medium heat stirring occasionally until the onions are transparent.
  4. Stir the cornflour into the milk ensuring there are no lumps. Pour into the fried onion and stir and cook until it begins to thicken.
  5. Now add the broccoli-spinach puree along with the reserved cup of pasta water. Stir continuously as the sauce will thicken. 
  6. Once the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, add the shredded cheese to the sauce and then the salt to taste.
  7. Cook until the cheese melts completely and has blended into the sauce.
  8. Place the cooked macaroni and the sweet corn in a large oven safe bowl. Pour the prepared sauce over this mix covering it completely.
  9. Cover with a good layer of panko bread crumbs and place in the oven at 350F. Bake until the sauce is bubbling and top is a beautiful golden brown colour.
  10. Turn off the heat, remove from the oven, and set on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before enjoying.
Good to Know:
  • This recipe makes a very conservative use of cheese. Use as much of your favourite cheese as you like.
  • Blending the garlic with the vegetables will give an enhanced garlicky flavour to this bake. If you like garlic but not too much of it, just fry it with the onion and jalapeno in Step 3 instead with blending it in Step 2.

Like this recipe. Tried it. Leave me a comment:) 

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