White Bean Mac N' Cheese
With Whole Grain Penne Rigate, Sautéed Spinach, and Rosemary Garlic Toasted Bread Crumbs
Ooey gooey cheesy goodness coming right at ya! This recipe is a slight variation of the White Bean & Spinach "Mac" n' Cheese I made a few months back where I substituted the macaroni for spaghetti squash. I am not a huge fan of eating pasta frequently (my lovely lady lumps can attest to that), but when you get the hankering, you just gotta do it. ESPECIALLY when it comes to mac n' cheese. Although I love the recipe with the spaghetti squash, there is nothing like a big fat dose of CARBS and CHEESE to set you right.
MAC N' CHEESE:
8 oz Ronzoni Whole Grain Penne Rigate
3 qts water
2 tsp sea salt
8 oz bag baby spinach
3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tbsp tbsp rosemary infused olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced & divided
15 oz can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
1 cup gruyere cheese, shredded & divided
¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
3 tbsp whole wheat flour
2½ cups unsweetened plant-based milk
½ tbsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp black pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp red pepper flakes, optional
Salt & pepper
¾ cup panko bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp dried rosemary
½ tsp dried sage
Cook the pasta: Add the water and sea salt to a large sauce pot. Bring water to a rapid boil. Add the pasta, stir, and return to a rapid boil. Cook uncovered until al dente, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve ¼ cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta and the remaining water into a colander and gently toss to remove any excess water. Lightly drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and stir to coat evenly to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Set aside.
Cook the spinach: In a large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil on medium heat until shimmering. Add minced garlic from 2 cloves and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and place in a sieve. Once cool enough to handle, drain the spinach by taking it in small handfuls and squeezing out as much water as possible. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Add the cannellini beans to a food processor and pulse until smooth. Set aside.
In the sauce pot used to cook the pasta, heat the remaining olive oils on medium heat until shimmering. Add the remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rosemary, sage, garlic powder, black pepper, and red pepper flakes (optional) and stir to combine. Cook for 30 seconds.
Gradually add the flour and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Gradually add the milk and reserved pasta water, stirring to combine. Cook on low to thicken, about 10 minutes..
Add mashed beans to the pot and stir to combine. Cook for 5 minutes until the mixture is smooth and thick.
Break apart the spinach and add it to the bean mixture. Stir to combine.
Mix in Monterey Jack, sharp cheddar, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and ½ cup gruyere. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Add the pasta and mix until the pasta is completely coated with the cheese mixture.
Lightly spray a large baking pan with cooking spray. Pour the pasta into the pan and spread evenly.
Sprinkle the remaining gruyere on top. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and sprinkle the toasted breadcrumbs on top. Return to the oven and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and just starting to brown around the edges. Remove from heat, allow to set for 5 minutes, and serve.