Easy Mac and Cheesy Bake with Greens and Roasted Garlic
Still going meatless and still looking for quick and easy dinner recipes, I was musing over the idea of roasted garlic and melted cheese. What about this isn't a good idea? This isn't exactly a "mac n' cheese recipe," it lacks the really thick, creamy sauce that makes it a true and hearty comfort food. Instead, this is a lighter, veggie packed, vegetarian pasta bake. The roasted garlic and crème fraîche make for a sweet and tangy meal. Enjoy!
- 1 head garlic
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. elbow macaroni
- 7-8 oz. tub crème fraîche
- 1 lb. extra sharp white cheddar cheese
- 1 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 large bunch fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- 1 10 oz. package frozen spinach, thawed in microwave, excess water drained
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375˚. Cut top of garlic head, place on a square sheet of foil, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and wrap garlic up in foil. Place in oven and bake about 30 minutes, until garlic cloves are soft and turning brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, grate cheeses, chop parsley, and cook spinach. Set aside. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high. Add pasta to boiling water and cook to al dente. While pasta is working, spray a 13x9" baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. When pasta is cooked, drain and reserve about 1 cup pasta cooking water. Return cooked pasta to large pot.
Place grated cheddar into a double boiler and allow to melt until smooth. Add crème fraîche and stir until smooth. Remove melted cheeses from heat, squeeze roasted garlic into cheese sauce and stir until combined. Add spinach, parsley, and a little of the pasta water at a time if the sauce is too thick. Add cheese sauce to cook pasta and stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste and spread in an even layer in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and place dish in oven. Bake 15-20 minutes until the Parmesan cheese is browning on top and the pasta is warmed through.