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
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
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!