There’s nothing wrong with regular mac and cheese, but it simply cannot compare to this Ultimate Spinach and Artichoke Mac and Cheese! It is the cheesiest and the creamiest, with a crispy, crunchy crumb topping. Make no mistake, this cannot be found in a box at the grocer!
ULTIMATE SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE MAC AND CHEESE
My Ultimate Spinach and Artichoke Mac and Cheese brings all the boys to the yard. Well, it would if I had a yard! Maybe it’ll bring them to my balcony? No, wait, that’s creepy. Never mind! I will, however, boldly state that my recipe is the best! It is a grown up version of the childhood classic.
Since John.e and I started living together, I have heard many times that he would like macaroni and cheese for dinner. But, I refused to make it because, to be completely honest, I cannot stand the texture of macaroni noodles! They tend to feel slimy and overcooked in my mouth.
CHILDHOOD MAC AND CHEESE TRAUMA
I blame it on a babysitter that my parents left us with when we were kids. Okay, she wasn’t actually OUR babysitter, but she was babysitting our two friends, Matthew and Jonathan. My parents had gone shopping with their parents. It was decided that we would spend the afternoon with our two friends. Even though my brother and I were old enough to be left on our own!
The babysitter was a nightmare of a woman; she did nothing but talk on the phone and chain smoke. And as all little boys know, playing Nintendo is hard work, so we got really hungry really quickly!
She offered to make us Kraft Dinner. She served a bowl of orange macaroni which was wet, slimy, and crunchy. No matter how much ketchup I put in that bowl, I could not swallow it!
ADULT MAC AND CHEESE TRAUMA
Fast forward a few years later, and, I will admit, I did eat Kraft Dinner occasionally. My ex wife used to make a casserole with mushroom soup, cheese, and Kraft Dinner. It was actually very good! Actually, I have a recipe for a Homemade Canadian Kraft Dinner that will knock your socks off!
All was good until my ex wife’s sister, (I love you, Natasha!) prepared Kraft Dinner one day for lunch. One bite was all it took. We all questioned what she did to make it taste like we were drinking from the Red Sea. It was so damn salty!!! And guess what!? To me, it was still slimy!
(We later learned that while she was salting the water, the lid fell off the salt shaker, and rather than change out the water, she used it anyway!)
My love… no, not love… acceptance(?) of Kraft Dinner died. I never again ate it! And, that, my friend, is where my distaste for macaroni and cheese came from – those two innocent episodes of grossness.
MY OWN KIND OF THERAPY
One evening, I decided to surprise John.e with mac and cheese for dinner. And, that’s how this recipe came to be, and my love of mac and cheese has been reborn.
I wanted to develop a grown up version of this dish. I had tried a little of the homemade stuff from time to time, but never acquired a taste for it. The only two ingredients in the stuff I ate was boiled macaroni and grated cheese. It was baked in the oven with bread crumbs on top. Now, if that’s how you like it, I won’t judge you. Who am I kidding? Of course I will judge you! But, I will reserve judgement until after you have tried this recipe. And, only if you can tell me honestly that it’s not a million times better!
Ultimate Spinach and Artichoke Mac and Cheese
- 1/4 cup butter
- 450 grams macaroni, cooked
- 6 cups old cheddar cheese, shredded
- 4 cups milk
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 300 gram package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and very well drained
- 2 14 ounce cans artichokes in water, drained and roughly chopped
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
- In a large sauce pan, melt the butter on medium heat. Add the salt and pepper and stir them into the sizzling butter. Next, add the flour and whisk until the flour is absorbed by the butter and the entire mixture turns an amber colour. This process is cooking off the flour taste and creating a roux.
- Next, pour in the milk and whisk until thickened.
- Set aside your whisk and get a large wooden spoon. Add 5 cups of the cheese, spinach, and artichokes. Stir until completely combined, and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Continue to stir otherwise the cheese mixture might burn while the pan is cooling.
- Add the cooked macaroni and stir well into the cheese sauce. Once incorporated, transfer to a large baking dish.
- Top with the remaining cup of cheese and the bread crumbs.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.