This baked mac and cheese with spinach is ready in just 30 minutes! A basic béchamel sauce with gruyere and cheddar cheese brings this rich and creamy mac and cheese recipe to life. It’s a terrific vegetarian dinner or side dish.
Course: Side Dish
Prep Time: 30minutes
Cook Time: 30minutes
2cupssharp cheddar cheese(8 ounces)
2cupsgruyere cheese(8 ounces)
1tablespoon hot sauce(up to 2 tbsp )
1cuppanko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350º. Lightly butter a 9 x 13 or a 2 quart baking dish.
Cook pasta until al dente, drain in colander and sprinkle with olive oil.
Place milk in a microwave safe bowl and cook for about 2 minutes until it is warm. In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium heat and add flour, whisking constantly for about 2 minutes. Gradually add warm milk whisking until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until thick, about 10 minutes.
Combine the cheeses in a bowl. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add 3 cups of cheese, reserving a cup for later, stir until melted. Add spinach, hot sauce, salt, cayenne, and black pepper and stir until the spinach has wilted.
Combine the pasta and cheese sauce and add additional salt and pepper to taste. Place half in the prepared pan and sprinkle with ½ the remaining cheese. Repeat with remaining pasta and cheese. Pour cream over the entire mixture and sprinkle with panko.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes until bubbly around the edges. Remove the foil and continue to bake until golden brown, 10-15 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Barbara's Notes + Tips
Warming the milk before adding it to the sauce will help it thicken quicker
You can use any shaped pasta that you want
If you want, you can use half-and half instead of cream