Nadya’s Mac’n Cheese with Spinach and Artichoke Hearts

mac'n cheese

There’s nothing like home-made Macaroni and Cheese for comfort food.  Nadya Sofonoff, brought this twist on the old standard  mac’n cheese to our Student Access and Support Services planning day and it was sooooo good.  The addition of spinach, artichoke hearts, wine and whole wheat pasta take this classic to new gourmet and nutritional levels.  It definitely takes more time than KD,  but the effort is worth it.  Make a big casserole so you can eat if for several lunches or dinners, or freeze smaller portions!

Nadya runs the invigilation centre on the Castlegar Campus.   Her job as a Disability Services assistant means that she has supported many, many students  to be successful at Selkirk.  Nadya and her centre exude a quiet, grounded calmness that helps students to show what they really know in testing situations.

Thanks for the recipe and all you do for students and all of us Nadya!

nisod 001

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound whole wheat penne
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup white wine – or add an extra 1/2 cup of milk
  • 2 cups milk
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 10 oz box of frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and wrung dry in a kitchen towel
  • 10 oz box of frozen chopped artichokes defrosted and wrung dry in a kitchen towel
  • black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded fontina cheese (or aged cheddar) plus extra for sprinkling on top
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano  – plus extra for sprinkling on top.

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375F.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil for pasta.  Cook pasta following box directions.

While the pasta water comes to boil, place a medium pot over medium-low heat with  the olive oil and butter.  Add onion and garlic to the pan and cook until soft (about 10 minutes). Sprinkle the flour into the pan, cook for about a minute and then whisk the wine in and cook for another minute to burn off the alcohol.  Whisk the milk into the pan and bring up to a bubble.  Add the nutmeg, spinach, artichokes, salt and pepper to the sauce and simmer until thickened.  Add 1 cup of each of the cheeses to the sauce and stir until just melted.

Toss the cheese sauce with the pasta and transfer to a  buttered casserole dish.  Sprinkle some more cheese over the top and bake until the cheese has melted the top is golden brown – about 30 minutes.

Eat with a big tossed green salad.

*  This basic recipe for the cheese sauce can be made with different cheeses, different pastas and different vegetables.  Make it once following the recipe as closely as you can and then start experimenting and using the ingredients you have on hand.  I recently had a twist on this twist that included broccoli, bacon and some blue cheese!

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