This week’s featured dish is our SPINACH PESTO MAC AND CHEESE. A childhood favorite, for many, has been given a grown up twist. Our Spinach Pesto has garlic, and extra .virgin olive oil, the flavors you love in traditional pesto, but we’ve put our own twist to it by swapping basil for fresh spinach and walnuts for pine nuts. Then to keep it vegan friendly, nutritional yeast is used instead of traditionally used, parmesan cheese. By adding this spinach pesto to our usual mac and cheese you get an ooey gooey, somewhat, healthy dish that’s perfect for a spooky time halloween treat. On a side note– how cute is this cauldron we’re serving this yumminess in? We found them at Target! Didn’t go looking for these but you know how it is with that store– ya go in for a few things and come out with a receipt a mile long! When I saw these cauldrons I knew there would be something fun food related we could use them for. The best part of this meal, like most of our recipes, it can be made vegan or vegetarian. So, let’s get cooking!
SPINACH PESTO MAC AND CHEESE:
MAC AND CHEESE INGREDIENTS:
- 1 1/3 cup macaroni pasta
- 2-3 Tablespoons (vegan) butter
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 1 cup milk of choice (We used almond milk)
- a dash or two of ground nutmeg
- 3 ounces (vegan) cheddar cheese, shredded
- 4 slices (vegan) american cheese, cut in strips
- hot sauce to taste
- (vegan) parmesan, for garnish (or 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast)
- Crushed red pepper flakes, for garnish
- (vegan) panko bread crumbs, for topping
- First start by cooking your macaroni pasta. When cooked al dente, drain and set aside.
- While getting the macaroni cooked, go ahead and start to make the cheese sauce— Melt some butter in a large skillet
- . When butter is melted add flour. Mix through the butter until sort of a paste forms.
- Slowly stir the milk into the butter/flour mixture, stirring constantly so lumps don’t form.
- Add ground nutmeg. Keep stirring until thick enough to stick to the spoon.
- Add cheeses. Stir until the cheese melts. When cheese melts add hot sauce.
- Pour cheese sauce into the cooked macaroni. Fold in to combine.
- Next make the Spinach Pesto.
SPINACH PESTO INGREDIENTS:
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- In a food processor, add spinach, chopped walnuts, nutritional yeast, garlic cloves, and garlic powder. Pulse until all ingredients are broken down into a chunky crumble look.
- While still pulsing the blade, drizzle in the olive oil.
- Sprinkle in some salt and pepper, to desired taste.
- Add the spinach pesto to the prepared mac and cheese. Stir to combine.
- Spoon into a greased medium sized baking dish.
- Sprinkle the top with parmesan and crushed red pepper flakes.
- Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle the top with some panko bread crumbs.
- Bake for a final 15 minutes or until bread crumbs are golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and let sit for about 10-15 minutes to allow the mac and cheese to settle.