Florentine Mac & Cheese

16 Jun

I’ve already shared with you my passion for Mac & Cheese.  It’s a paradox… because when someone is feeling down and out, people usually seek their comfort foods to make themselves feel better.  But here’s the thing… when I am feeling “under the weather” I crave cheese like there’s no tomorrow, but cheese and wheat products are the least I should have during that time…

So lately I have been trying my best to stay away from cheeses – trying to make other types of food…  rices, stews, etc.  But I could not hold-off any longer.  That tub of ricotta cheese was calling me every time I opened up the fridge…  so without further ado, here’s my version of a quick stove-top white mac and chesse with fresh baby spinach…

 

 

FLORENTINE MAC & CHEESE

¼ pack of whole-wheat macaroni pasta – although any short tubular pasta will do
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbs sofrito
1 cup half-and-half
½ cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup Parmesan
2 oz cream cheese
¼ cup vegetable stock
1 tbs cornstarch
Kosher Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
3 – 4 handfuls of fresh baby spinach – this would also work with about 1 cup of thawed and squeezed-dry frozen spinach
  1. Bring to a boil a large pot of water, season liberally with salt.  Add macaroni and cook for about 10 minutes, until al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, we make the sauce…   In a medium sauce pan, heat olive oil and sofrito and sauté for about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the half and half and heat for a few minutes.   Add the ricotta, cream cheese and Parmesan.  Let the cheeses melt into the sauce.
  4. Add the fresh spinach.  Stir every so often to wilt the spinach into the cheese mixture.  Cover for a few minutes so the steam helps in the wilting process.
  5. In a small dish, mix together the vegetable stock and cornstarch to make a slurry.  Add to the cheese mixture to thicken.  Stir a few times to ensure everything is well incorporated.  The sauce will start to thicken as it comes to a soft boil.
  6. When the sauce has reached your desired consistency, which to me is that it looks creamy enough to coat the macaroni, turn it off and keep covered.  The spinach will fully wilt with the remaining heat in the pot.
  7. Drain the cooked macaroni and return to the hot pot.  Add the cheese mixture and combine well.  Let the macaroni with cheese sauce stand for 5-10 minutes… the sauce will thicken a bit upon standing.

 

Serve with a nice Tomato Salad on top… super comfort food in my book.

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