(Click on photo for full-size image!)
Makes 8 servings
If you’re a lover of kale like I am, you’re sure to become a lover of this mac and cheese recipe. It’s half kale—so you’ll be able to indulge in this comfort food and feel good about it. And don’t worry … I didn’t use any fake or fat-free cheese to make this good for you. It’s full of wholesome ingredients. Prepare it on a lazy Sunday. It’ll wake up your palate with pure joy. Enjoy!
Calories Saved: 270
8 ounces whole-grain or multi-grain elbow macaroni
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
3 cups organic low-fat (1%) milk
2 cups freshly shredded Gruyère cheese (about 6 ounces)
2 ounces soft goat cheese
1 3/4 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 jumbo yellow onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 pound chopped fresh kale leaves, thick stems removed
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (optional)
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons whole-wheat Panko breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until nearly al dente, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain the pasta, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
- Melt the butter with 2 1/2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium or large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisking constantly, for 1 minute. While continuing to whisk constantly, slowly drizzle in the milk and cook until the sauce has thickened and coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from heat. Stir in the Gruyère cheese, goat cheese, salt, and nutmeg; set the cheese sauce aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in (PFOA-free) nonstick Dutch oven or large deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened, 8 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the kale (a handful at a time), hot pepper flakes (if using), and lemon zest and toss with tongs until wilted, about 10 minutes. Stir in the reserved cheese sauce, the thyme, and the reserved pasta until combined.
- Transfer the mixture to a 9″ x 13″ or 10-inch round baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with the breadcrumbs and Romano cheese. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 35 minutes, and serve.
Per serving: 390 calories, 20g total fat, 9g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 40mg cholesterol, 700mg sodium, 38g total carbohydrate, 5g dietary fiber, 6g sugars, 18g protein
(Disclosure: I am a paid spokesperson for Barilla America, Inc. However, this recipe was not developed on their behalf; I was not paid to develop it for my blog.)
The “Before” Recipe
greek mac and cheese
adapted from saveur.com
Makes 8 servings
3 slices white bread, torn into small pieces, crusts removed
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt, or to taste
8 ounces elbow macaroni
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
4 cups grated graviera or kefalotyri cheese (about 12 ounces)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely chopped shallots
1 pound baby spinach, roughly chopped
8 scallions, cut into 1/4″-thick rounds
1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh dill
1 3/4 cups crumbled feta cheese (about 8 ounces)
- Add the bread to a food processor container; cover and pulse until finely ground. Transfer the bread crumbs to a small bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of the melted butter and stir to combine; set aside.
- Bring a 6-quart pot of salted water to a boil (using 1 teaspoon of the salt). Add the pasta and cook until halfway done, about 3 minutes. Drain the pasta, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
- Heat the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisking constantly, for 1 minute. While continuing to whisk constantly, slowly drizzle in the milk and cook until the sauce has thickened and coats the back of a spoon, 10–15 minutes. Remove the pan from heat. Stir in the graviera cheese, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; set the béchamel sauce aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat the oil in a 5-quart pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until softened, 3–4 minutes. Add the spinach and scallions and sauté until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the reserved béchamel sauce, the dill, and the reserved pasta until combined.
- Transfer the mixture to a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with reserved bread crumb mixture and the feta cheese. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes, and serve.
Per serving: 660 calories, 41g total fat, 24g saturated fat, 0.5g trans fat, 120mg cholesterol, 1050mg sodium, 47g total carbohydrate, 5g dietary fiber, 10g sugars, 28g protein
- Use a just-right amount of cheeses for mac and cheese—and remember that there’s no replacement for the real thing
- Be sure your veggie addition to mac and cheese is flavorful enough to stand on its own … don’t just simply toss in a plain veggie
- Try a pasta that has a nuttier taste, like whole grain pasta, which pairs well with rich tasting kale
- Use spices and seasonings smartly … if you add a little kick with hot pepper flakes, you may not need black pepper