Recipe: Fast and Fancy Spinach-Artichoke Mac and Cheese

Recipe: Fast and Fancy Spinach-Artichoke Mac and Cheese

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Kelli Foster
May 22, 2017
(Image credit: Jean Schwarzwalder)

You love spinach-artichoke dip and you love mac and cheese, so it only makes sense that these two crowd-pleasers come together to make this luxurious weeknight dinner. If you think each one is amazing on its own, you haven't lived until you've experienced this dip-meets-dinner mash-up. With four (yes, four!) cheeses, a double dose of veggies, tender pasta, and a single pot, it doesn't get much better than this easy-fancy mac and cheese.

Better Cheese Makes It Fancy; One Pot Keeps It Simple

This mac and cheese really is the best of both worlds. It's fun and fancy and, at the same time, quick and simple enough for a weeknight dinner. In a departure from the standard cheddar, this recipe ups the ante with a medley of impressive cheeses inspired by spinach-artichoke dip: Cream cheese makes the sauce extra rich and creamy, while Gouda, Gruyère, and Parmesan introduce nutty undertones and sharp flavors.

Best of all (yes, it still gets better!), this ultra-luxe mac and cheese is so quick and simple to pull together. Add it to the weeknight comfort food roster because all it takes to make this dinner your reality is about 30 minutes and a single pot. Get ready for easy cooking, easy cleanup, and the mac and cheese of your dreams.

5 Recipes for Fast and Fancy Weeknight Dinners

Embrace fast-and-fancy dinners and your meal plan will never be the same again. This week we're sharing five recipes that teach you the magic of everyday fast-and-fancy meals. These dinners are impressive and feel a little more special than your standard weeknight fare, yet are quick and easy enough to pull together any night of the week.

(Image credit: Jean Schwarzwalder)

Fast and Fancy Spinach Artichoke Mac and Cheese

Serves 4

8 ounces dried jumbo elbow macaroni or medium pasta shells
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup grated Gouda cheese
1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (no salt)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups packed baby spinach leaves (about 2 ounces)
1 (14- to 15-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

Heat the oven to broil. Bring a Dutch oven or large broiler-safe pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in the same pot over medium heat. Transfer 1 tablespoon of the butter to a small bowl, add the panko, and stir to combine; set aside.

Add the flour to the pot and whisk into the butter until completely combined. The mixture will look like wet sand. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to dry out, about 2 minutes.

Gradually whisk in a little bit of the milk until smooth, then whisk in the remaining milk and continue whisking until smooth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the cream cheese and stir until melted and smooth.

Remove the pot from the heat and stir the Gouda, Gruyère, and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan in one handful at a time until melted and smooth. Stir in the garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir in the spinach and artichokes. Add the cooked pasta and stir gently until the spinach is wilted and the pasta and sauce are evenly combined.

Sprinkle the reserved panko and remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan evenly over the top. Broil until the cheese is melted and the panko is browned, 1 to 2 minutes.

Recipe Notes

  • Storage: Leftovers can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
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