Whether you call it Macaroni-cheese, Mac and Cheese or Mac ‘n Cheese, this dish remains a favorite universal comfort food. With a splash of green, here’s our Irish twist on it!
“May the leprechauns be near you,
To spread luck along your way.
And may all the Irish angels,
Smile upon you on St. Patrick’s Day”
- 1 pound baby spinach
- 2 cups dry pasta, such as macaroni pieces, elbows or penne
- 4 ounces bacon, cut into small pieces
- 1 small onion, diced
- vegetable oil, optional
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup flour
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1½ teaspoons mustard powder
- milk, made up to 2½ cups with liquid from spinach
- 2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1½ cups breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons finely shredded Parmesan cheese
- Rinse the spinach, place in a heavy-based saucepan (without any additional water) and boil until wilted – 2-3 minutes.
- Cut the spinach coarsely and drain in a colander, over a large jug or bowl, to retain the liquid.
- Set the pasta to boil (in the unwashed spinach saucepan) and drain when done.
- In the meantime, sauté the bacon and onion in a medium-large saucepan, until lightly browned. Add a dash of oil if necessary.
- Remove the bacon and onion from the saucepan and set aside.
- Add the butter (if there’s a lot of bacon fat, add less butter), flour, salt, nutmeg and mustard to the saucepan. Mix well to blend and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Add the liquid, while whisking, to form a smooth sauce. Stir over medium heat until it thickens slightly.
- Stir in the cheese and mix until melted and uniform.
- Turn off the heat and fold in the bacon-onion, the spinach, and the pasta. Adjust the flavoring if necessary.
- Scrape into an ovenproof dish - capacity approximately 2 quart.
- Prepare the topping by combining the butter, breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Sprinkle over the spinach-pasta.
- Bake at 350˚F for 20-30 minutes until lightly browned and bubbly.