This parmesan spinach mac and cheese is an easy, satisfying recipe for busy weeknights. Vegetarian.
I got four different emails this morning from blogger friends who made “detox” or “healthy” or “goddess” veggie-packed recipe things (<– side note, WTF is “goddess” food and someone please tell me why and how this is a thing).
But friends, I’m just gonna let you know now: that is very much NOT how we will be rolling today.
Because in Life As A Strawberry land, where I am somehow the dinnertime cruise director (and am maybe also a little bit drunk with power), we will be enjoying some CARBS that I have COVERED IN CHEESE.
But also there is spinach. Soooo…health food?
BUT! I’ve simplified the recipe even more today so that this here mac and cheese is ready in 30 minutes. With basically no prep required. Because we have THINGS to do, right?
We’re talking six basic steps to spinach mac and cheese weeknight world domination:
- Make pasta.
- Whisk sauce.
- Add spinach.
- Add cheese.
- Cover pasta in spinach cheese sauce.
- Stuff the pasta in your face.
Like most mac and cheese, this is a great blank-canvas food. Add some protein or extra veggies to mix it up (if you’re into that sorta thing). PS – Check out Mac and Cheese 101 for my best customization tips!
You could also add artichoke hearts for a spinach artichoke dip mac and cheese-type situation, but CONFESSION: I hate artichokes (I haaaaaate them) so I’ll just leave that particular mix to you guys, k?
Parmesan Spinach Mac and Cheese
Easy parmesan spinach mac and cheese. Vegetarian.
- Prep Time: 10 min
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4-6
- 3/4 lb. cavatappi pasta
- 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 3 Tbsp. flour
- 2 cups milk (I used 1%)
- 3 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup cream cheese
- 1.5 cups shredded parmesan cheese
- Cook the pasta in very salty water until al dente. Drain pasta and set aside.
- Return empty pasta pot to stove and turn the heat to medium.
- Add butter to pot and heat until just melted.
- Whisk flour into butter and let cook for 30 seconds.
- Slowly stream milk into pot, whisking constantly to break up any lumps of flour. Cook, whisking occasionally, until sauce has thickened and just begun to simmer, about 7-10 minutes.
- Stir chopped spinach, salt, and pepper into sauce and cook 1-2 minutes more until spinach has wilted.
- Remove sauce from heat.
- Add cream cheese and shredded parmesan cheese to sauce and stir until cheese has melted.
- Return cooked pasta to sauce and stir to coat. Serve immediately.
Buy good parmesan cheese and shred it yourself – pre-shredded cheese is sometimes coated with preservatives that will prevent it from melting smoothly.
Substitute 1 cup of frozen spinach for the fresh spinach if you like. Fresh arugula can also be used in place of the spinach.
Don’t forget to add plenty of fresh ground pepper to this pasta!
Feel free to bake this mac and cheese if you prefer. I recommend you follow the bread crumb and baking instructions in Mac and Cheese 101.
Add artichoke hearts, garlic, onions, and/or sautéed mushrooms to this macaroni and cheese for an extra boost of vegetables. You could also add steamed broccoli, peas, corn, or bell pepper.
For extra protein, add chicken, shrimp, bacon, or smoked salmon. Cook the meat separately and stir it into the pasta when you’re ready to serve.
- Calories: 541