Tuesday, December 16, 2014

MindFull Meal for Friends: Creamy Dreamy Spinach and Artichoke Mac N Cheese

Our blog, Essential Living MindFully, is about living mindfully around food, wellness, and life in general.  Part of life is sometimes simply and fully enjoying yourself.  Often that joy comes while dining with friends over good (occasionally decadent) food and stimulating conversation.  Sometimes it comes in the garden or kitchen with the beauty, smell, or taste of something delicious.  The dish we are sharing today encompasses all of that.

Some of the recipes we share here use healthy, fresh foods and sometimes essential oils.  Once in a while, we will share something decadent.  This is one of those dishes, yet it also contains veggies and dairy to keep essential nutrients in reach. 

This Creamy Dreamy Spinach and Artichoke Mac N Cheese is vegetarian, but not vegan.  You can add chicken if you want, but really, it is a complete meal in itself.  Perfect for entertaining, this is quick and easy to prepare, allowing time to set the table or enjoy a cocktail while it bubles away in the oven.  And you get to join your guests at the table without lingering in the kitchen with last minute preparations, leaving plenty of time for dinner conversation.

If you like the artichoke spinach dip found in restaurants,  you will love this dish.   It has a similar flavor without the saltiness of most of them, and it has pasta! 


16 oz. Box of macaroni noodles
6 cups chopped fresh raw spinach
2 small jars artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
4 cups milk
1 cup sour cream
4 oz. Cream cheese
8 oz. Shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
6 oz. (6 slices) Smoke gouda cheese
4 oz (4 slices) sharp white cheddar cheese
2 oz swiss cheese (2 slices)
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3-6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
2 Tbs real butter
2 Tbs flour


Preheat oven to 350

Cook pasta only 2-4 minutes in salty water.  It should still be firm.  Drain and Cool until no longer too hot to touch.

Cheesy Sauce

This is a good time to start the cheese sauce:  melt butter in a large saucepan.   Add garlic, onions and nutmeg until fragrant.   Add flour, stirring until incorporated with the butter (a minute or less).  Stir while adding milk, cheeses and sour cream.  Cook on medium low until everything is melted together.  Stir frequently to keep from sticking or burning.
Fresh Spinach, Canned Artichokes and Lighly cooked Macaroni noodles
Place chopped spinach and chopped artichokes in a large bowl, add macaroni and combine well.  Pour the cheese sauce over the this and combine until all pasta and veggies are coated.

Put into a buttered 9x13 pan, or individual ramekins.  Cook 45 minutes to an hour (less time if you are making individual serving sizes). It should begin browning on top and have an irresistible smell.

Ready to Bake!
Smells Amazing!

Steaming Hot Ready to Eat.

Remove from oven, and scoop from large pan into bowls or onto plates while still steaming.   Add garnish if you wish.
It won't be long before it disappears.

Where Did It All Go?
NOTES:  You may substitute similar good quality cheeses for some of those listed here.  If you want a saltier flavor, you can add more parmesan.   You can also add more spinach or artichokes if you see fit.  If you use frozen spinach, drain it well.  Frozen artichokes will also work.