American
Three Cheese Mac and Cheese with Spinach

Three Cheese Mac and Cheese with Spinach

The MAC is BACK! I’m talking about macaroni and cheese, not that song “Return of the Mack,”although that song is quite good (and now stuck in my head, and probably yours too… you are welcome). I haven’t made a quality macaroni and cheese since my son was born, which was NINE MONTHS AGO. Funny, I actually scheduled my Roasted Broccoli Mac and Cheese to go live the day he was born, so if my son doesn’t like mac and cheese when he grows older, we’re gonna have some problems. Nevertheless, I love incorporating fresh vegetables into my MAC because why not? Broccoli, brussel sprouts, and in this instance, fresh sautéed garlic baby spinach.

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We always end up having some leftover cheese in our cheese drawer in the fridge, and it irks me when I have to throw food away because we try our hardest to be a no-waste home. A couple weeks ago I decided that mac and cheese would be on the menu, but for whatever reason it ended up being pushed back. FINALLY, I threw it together last sunday during meal prep, an it reheated beautifully in the oven for dinner later that night. I used the cheese I already had on hand (Trader Joe’s unexpected cheddar, and Whole Foods 365 Mild Cheddar and Monterey Jack blend), about 1/2 cup of Organic Valley heavy cream and 2 tbsp of butter. Oh, and an entire bag of organic baby spinach sautéed in avocado oil and garlic powder.

Mac and cheese can sometimes taste dry, but this one-pot MAC is extra cheesy, creamy, and exactly what it should be. The trick? After boiling the pasta (about 1-2 minutes under what the box says), I threw it back into the pot, along with the heavy cream and butter first, and then the cheese over a low flame. The low flame helped melt the butter and cheese simultaneously, and the heavy cream helped bind everything together. A true masterpiece if I may say so myself.

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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 box cavatappi pasta (or fusilli, macaroni, shells – small pasta with ridges that can hold onto the cheese well).
  • ~2 cups of Mild Cheddar/Monterey Jack cheese blend
  • ~1 cup Trader Joe’s unexpected cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ~1/2 cup heavy cream (you know my thoughts on Organic Valley, love them!)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

*This symbol “~” means approximately. This is around what I used, but use your own judgment for taste!

Fill a pot of water and bring to a boil.  Salt the water and add the pasta and cook until desired firmness.  Meanwhile,  take fresh baby spinach and sauté in olive oil until the spinach has fully wilted. Add minced garlic or garlic powder,  keep on a low flame for two minutes and then set aside.  Strain and add back into the pot.  Add the butter, heavy cream, and begin to incorporate with the pasta. Pour in the cheese and continue to stir. Turn the pot to a low flame and stir until the cheese is completely melted. Add the salt and pepper and continue to stir.  Stir in the sautéed spinach and enjoy!

Three Cheese Mac and Cheese with Spinach

A timeless dish with a healthier twist – added spinach! Cheesy, creamy, and perfectly cozy for a wintry day. This one-post MAC is easy to whip up in a pinch, with all the leftover cheese in your fridge, plus the added benefit of sautéed spinach. It's a no-brainer for kids, meal prep, and for the freezer!

Course Dinner, lunch
Cuisine American, Classic, Comfort, Pasta, Traditional
Keyword 30 minute meals, baked pasta, MAC, mac and cheese, meal prep, one pot dinner, spinach, vegetables
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author nomastehungry

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg cavatappi or small, spiral pasta with ridges
  • 2 cups Mild Cheddar/Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup Trader Joe's unexpected cheddar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt
  • pepper

For the Spinach

  • 1 pkg fresh baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder

Instructions

  1. Fill a pot of water and bring to a boil.  Salt the water and add the pasta and cook until desired firmness.

  2. Meanwhile,  take fresh baby spinach and sauté in olive oil until the spinach has fully wilted. Add minced garlic or garlic powder,  keep on a low flame for two minutes and then set aside.

  3. Strain and add back into the pot.  Add the butter, heavy cream, and begin to incorporate with the pasta.

  4. Pour in the cheese and continue to stir. Turn the pot to a low flame and keep stirring until the cheese is completely melted. Add the salt and pepper and continue to stir.  Stir in the sautéed spinach and enjoy!

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