I have a big presentation at school today, which has made me extra stressed out all week and resulted in a steady diet of things like buttered noodles, bagels with cream cheese, and gummy mangoes. Luckily, my boyfriend was nice enough to make me some real food last night - meatloaf, corn, and white rice, total comfort food. And speaking of comfort food...
Macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite comfort foods. I usually make my mom's recipe, but sometimes it's fun to change things up. In this case, the mac and cheese is mixed with a variety of veggies: roasted garlic, onions, spinach, artichoke hearts, and sun-dried tomatoes. The cheese sauce is part Asiago (to make it melty and creamy) and part feta, for a delicious brine-y flavor. A quick trip to the oven browns the cheese and gives the top layer a little crunch - you could add some panko for even more of a crunchy topping if you like. I will definitely be making this one again - it's different enough to provide a fun change of pace, but also cheese-y enough to remain firmly in the 'comfort food' camp!
One note on the roasted garlic - we picked up a head of roasted garlic at our local pizza shop, but it's easy to make yourself as long as you plan ahead. You can find lots of recipes online. The roasted garlic will keep in the fridge for a couple of days; just be sure to put it in something airtight so it doesn't stink up your fridge.
Greek Macaroni and Cheese (adapted from Adventures in Cooking, original recipe here)
1 head roasted garlic
3 T butter, divided
4.5 ounce package pre-chopped onions, garlic, and shallots (I used Trader Joe's brand)
5 cups baby spinach
1 can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and chopped
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
12 ounces dry pasta
1 tsp flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
10.5 ounces feta cheese, packaged in brine, chopped
1 cup grated Asiago cheese
Freshly grated black pepper
1. Set a large pot of water to boil, and salt it once it comes to a boil. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
2. Squeeze out the garlic from the cloves, and mash. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
3. Melt 2 T of the butter and 1 tsp oilve oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion mixture, and cook, stirring often, until softened and starting to brown. Transfer to the bowl with the roasted garlic.
4. Add the spinach to the pan, and stir over medium heat until wilted. Add more olive oil if you need to so that the spinach doesn't get brown or burnt. When the spinach has wilted, squeeze out as much moisture as possible, chop if the pieces seem large, and add to the bowl with the garlic and onions. Add the chopped artichoke hearts and sun dried tomatoes to the bowl. Stir well. Set aside.
5. Cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente. Drain, and toss with a good glug of olive oil.
6. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the remaining tablespoon of butter in a saucepan over low heat until melted. Whisk in the flour. Add the milk and half-and-half and heat until hot but not boiling. Add the oregano and rosemary and mix well. Stir in both cheeses, and then stir until the Asiago cheese is melted and the feta cheese has started to melt but there are still distinct chunks.
7. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheese mixture to the bowl with the veggies. Fold in the cooked pasta. Scrape everything into an oiled 9x13 casserole dish. Generously grate black pepper over the top.
8. Cook for about 5-10 minutes, until lightly browned. Let sit 5 minutes or so and serve.