Me: “Ugh, Matt, I feel gross, we need to eat healthier. Let’s have salads all week!”
Matt: “Sounds great.”
Two days later:
Matt: “What’s for dinner?”
Me: “Mac n’ cheese.”
I can’t help it. Food is my weakness, and it’s just so damn satisfying. I’m jumpin’-on-the-couch-on-Oprah head over heels for food. Who in their right mind can say NO to a comforting, cozy bowl of mac n’ cheese?
That being said, I wish I could diet. With a lingering foot injury and a noticeably slower metabolism, I’ve gained a bit of pre-hibernation weight despite my best efforts. I’ve tried dieting, but what starts with good intentions ends in moodiness, anger, and just a general sadness. Who am I to deny myself the joy of a good burger? It would be like telling an adrenaline junkie they can’t have any fun. To deny these simple life pleasures would be like going from a life of technicolour to a life of black and white.
I guess it all comes down to will power (which I lack) and the ability to eat in moderation (which I am quite good at). While I might have a burger one night, I’ll have a salad for lunch. When I might snack on chocolate in the afternoon, I’ll have a green smoothie in the morning. When I make a cheesy, carb-tastic pasta, I’ll toss in a TON of spinach to make up for it.
It all evens out, in the end.
When I say a ton of spinach, I mean a ton. 500g of uncooked spinach is a decent amount of greens. When you cook it down, it shrinks to about 1/8 of the size, and while it still IS a ton of spinach, it packs down and hides nicely inside a hearty meal.
Sauteed, heart-healthy spinach.
Chewy, al-dente noodles (rotini to hold all the sauce).
The bite of freshly grated Parmesan.
A slight tang from the shredded provolone.
A hint of saltiness from some crumbled feta.
Lots of freshly cracked black pepper for a subtle heat.
Just typing this has me all excited to dig into my leftovers today.
I’ve kept this recipe vegetarian, but it would be absolutely fantastic with some shredded chicken added to the mix!
|Spinach & Feta Mac N' Cheese|| |
- 4 cups rotini, uncooked
- 500g fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup butter
- 1 small onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 tsp Dijon mustard
- 4 cups milk
- Black pepper, to taste
- 2 cups provolone cheese, shredded
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1¼ cups feta cheese, crumbled
- ½ cups bread crumbs mixed with ¼ cup melted butter
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9x9" baking dish; set aside.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- In a large pot, add spinach and 2 tablespoons of water. Cook until spinach has steamed and wilted, cooking in batches, if necessary. Transfer spinach to a fine-mesh sieve, pressing out any remaining liquid; set aside.
- In the same pot, add butter and melt over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, and cook for 1 minute. Stir in flour and cook for another minute. Stir in Dijon.
- Whisk in milk until smooth. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for 5-7 minutes until thickened and mixture coats the back of a spoon. Stir in the provolone, Parmesan, and ¾ cup of the feta until smooth.
- Add pasta and spinach to the pot and stir until evenly coated. Transfer to prepared baking dish.
- Sprinkle breadcrumb and butter mixture over pasta. Sprinkle with remaining feta cheese. Bake for 30-35 minutes until top is golden and pasta is bubbly.