Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Spinach and Artichoke Mac 'n Cheese

My daughter Olivia is just starting to open up to different foods.  Last year she fell in love with green beans, so much so that she would eat an entire plate for dinner.  This winter she fell in love with Brussels sprouts.  Then this spring she fell in love with spinach and artichoke dip.  Even though spinach and artichoke dip isn't the healthiest of things I'm still thrilled about the possibilities.  When she asked me if we could make the dip at home I immediately thought of this recipe for Spinach & Artichoke Mac 'n Cheese.  This recipe combines Olivia's two favorite things: pasta and spinach & artichoke dip.  

Yes, this is a rather heavy recipe for the hot summer months.  Saying that, we don't always follow the rules of seasonal cooking.  After a day of swimming or playing outside for hours, both of my kids are totally famished and craving comfort food.  This recipe does a good job of filling up the kids (and adults too).  Because believe me, the last thing I want to hear is "I'm hungry" every single hour of the day.  That can really wear on a person.
Spinach & Artichoke Mac 'n' Cheese
Adapted from Rachel Ray's Look + Cook
Serves 6-8

1 pound whole wheat penne
2 tablespoons EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 (10-ounce) box frozen chopped artichokes, defrosted & drained (I used a 14 oz. can)
1 (10-ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted & wrung dry in a kitchen towel
Black pepper
1-1/2 cups shredded Italian Fontina cheese, plus additional for sprinkling on top
1-1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus additional for sprinkling on top

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta, salt the water, and cook the pasta to al dente.  While the pasta water comes to a boil, place a medium pot over medium-low heat with EVOO and the butter.  Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook until very soft, about 10 minutes.  Heat the broiler and position the rack in the middle of the oven.  Turn up the heat under the pot to medium-high and sprinkle the flour into the pot.  Cook for about 1 minute, then whisk in the wine 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, artichokes, spinach, and salt and pepper to the sauce and simmer until thickened and the vegetables are warmed through, 2-3 minutes more.  Add 1 cup of each of the cheeses to the sauce and stir until melted.  Toss the prepared sauce with the cooked pasta and transfer to a casserole dish.  Sprinkle the remaining Fontina and Parmigiano over the top and brown under the broiler for about 3 minutes.

Notes/Results:  Very reminiscent of spinach and artichoke dip, this pasta is rich, satisfying, ultimately creamy, and delicious!  Rachel's recipe indicates that it serves four, but this recipe makes so much that it would easily serve 6-8.  I should note that the fontina cheese called for in the recipe is somewhat expensive, but in the end I really do think that it's the fontina that makes the recipe so creamy.  Totally worth the splurge!


  1. I wish my son would fall in love with vegetables :-) I enjoy comfort dishes all year too. I can see why your family enjoyed this meal. It looks really good. Fontina is a wonderful cheese for cooking.


    P.S. Thanks for following along with me on vacation.

  2. Wow I think this is heavenly.

  3. How fortunate to have a daughter with a sophisticated palate Kim. One of our little nieces won't eat anything right now but cereal.

    Love the artichokes and spinach combination with the two cheeses. Must taste heavenly.

  4. I was looking through this cookbook (yeah, you and Brenda made me cave) and this recipe jumped out. It is a bit of a splurge, so it's good to know it was liked by your family.

  5. I've always wanted to just order that dip at a restaurant for my meal...this seems like a much better alternative.

  6. This sounds sooooo delish! My kids are anti-green food so I'm pretty sure they might totally freak! Awesome your daughter likes it though-maybe someday...sigh;)

  7. I was just eyeing this over the weekend Kim when I was searching for a July recipe. I'm dying to try it, it looks and sounds SO good!!! Your photos are driving me nuts, I want to reach right through the computer and have it for lunch. Yum!!

  8. OMG, here I am eating Slim Fast for breakfast and lunch this week and you break out this incredible recipe. I'm adding the ingredients to my shopping list and making it on Sunday. Your daughter has good instincts!

  9. I hate most creamy dips but spinach and artichoke is one of the exceptions. This mac and cheese version sounds addictive!

  10. I LOOOOVE Spinach and Artichoke dip! What a great idea...let me rephrase that...what a dangerous idea ;)

  11. And you got the spinach in too so she can be strong like Popeye. It sounds scrumptious. You are truly clever.

  12. This looks wonderful. I so love spinach-artichoke dip so this looks right up my alley. You are making me seriously want that Rachel Ray book. ;-)

  13. you too? i swear, if i had a dollar for everytime i heard "i'm hungry!" i'd be a wealthy woman. my favorite is when i hear it literally seconds after lunch.

    i LOOOOOVE this dish, oh my gosh, what i wouldn't give for a plate of it now. such a great idea to combine the two. and good for olivia for trying new things. i get so excited when my kids are willing to try foods that aren't in their comfort zone.

  14. Oh yum, love spinach dip so this is calling my name.

  15. Hi Kim- Yes I do have this book too. I have many dog-eared pages to try. This is one of them. It looks incredible! One can never have enough dips in her arsenal!

  16. omg! my stomach is growling..I seriously wish I had a bowl full in front of me right now

  17. OMG, you have made me so hungry! Once I stop drooling I will read it again, and note it down.
    Another interesting and probably tastiest variation of Mac'n'Cheese i've seen in a while.

    If I put on weight, you and Joanne are entirely responsible! haha!!

    Incidentally, and off-tipic. How has Jamie Oliver been recieved over there? I notice his "school dinner" food revolution has crossed the pond.

  18. This looks amazing!! Love it - its weird because I don't even like artichokes by themselves, but I love the dip. Thanks for sharing Kim!

  19. I think I could dive into that bowl and not come up for air! I just copied that into my BigOven desktop for making soon. Great job, Kim, it looks divine.

  20. This looks really delicious! I have seen this recipe in the book, and am wondering about artichoke, as I do not think that I have seen it around here before. Would really love to try it!

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