Remember like two weeks ago when I told you I had made the best mac and cheese and then rudely didn't give you the recipe? Yeah, I figured you did. Sorry about that. I wasn't trying to be mean, I swear. Things got away from me and we had just a couple giveaways, but now - it's back. This is the mac and cheese that I am now in love with.
A while back I had stumbled on this recipe for Springs Shells and Cheese on The Bitten Word, who I think grabbed it from Food Network (yeah, follow that train) and decided it was something I wanted to try because, well, look at it.
The night I decided to give it a try I realized that this recipe had more steps than I wanted and I wanted more veggies so I made a couple adjustments. Those adjustments led to more adjustments which led to pretty much a different recipe entirely. I can tell you are shocked that I screwed around with a recipe. To me, the beauty of this is that it can be changed and adjusted and messed with. You can add whatever veggies you want into it and I think it will work.
I feel like I need to give you a disclaimer on this one before I dish out the recipe. Allen is a mac and cheese purist. He loves mac and cheese and loves my traditional mac and cheese. He's a southern man and mac and cheese in the south is NOT made with vegetables. I made the small mistake of telling him I was making mac and cheese for dinner and then presenting something with spinach in it. He was confused. He was kind. He was adamant that it was NOT mac and cheese. I believe his exact words were "this is really good, but it's more of a (pause pause pause) casserole?" Keeping that in mind, he did have two helpings and asked if there was enough for him to take to work for lunch. I guess he liked the "casserole." I'm going to stick with calling it mac and cheese. Ha.
You need to make this, it's gooey, yummy, perfect for a hearty meal and yet has the vegetables to give some extra flavor and yummy goodness. It doesn't hurt that I cooked it in a cast iron skillet so it has a homey feel as it comes out of the oven. Holy yum. I'm going to make it again soon and add some mushrooms - what would you add?
Veggie Mac and Cheese
1 shallot, minced
1 zucchini, chopped
1 1/2 C fresh baby spinach (roughly chopped)
1/4 C corn
1 C shredded mozzarella
1 C shredded gruyere
1 1/2 C milk
2 1/2 tbsp butter
1/4 C flour
8 oz (1/2 box) whole wheat shell pasta
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat over to 350. Boil water and cook pasta as to directions on the box. While the pasta is cooking, saute shallots and zucchini in a medium pan (Feel free to add any veggies you want). Add corn to the pan to heat through and add spinach to wilt, salt and pepper to taste. Once the spinach has wilted, take the veggies out of pan and set aside. Drain pasta and set aside. Add butter to the medium pan, once melted add the flour to the pan, stirring to make a roux. Cook for 30 seconds and then slowly add milk while whisking at low heat to create a white sauce. As the sauce begins to thicken, add half of each cheese and the veggies into the sauce. Stir together and then combine the sauce mixture with the drained pasta. Add the mac and cheese to a baking dish or cast iron skillet. Top with the remaining cheese and bake for 25 minutes or until bubbly and brown. EAT!!
I would suggest you make this, eat it and then let me know what veggies you decided to add. Just my two cents though.