This easy, creamy havarti mac and cheese has plenty of fresh spinach and is ready in half an hour!
- 3/4 pound pasta (we used elbow macaroni)
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 Tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups shredded havarti cheese
- 2 heaping cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook pasta in very salty water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Return empty pot to stovetop. Add butter and melt over medium heat.
- When butter is melted, add flour. Whisk to combine. Cook, whisking occasionally, for about 1 minute until roux is fragrant and sizzling,
- Add milk a bit at a time, whisking constantly to break up any lumps of flour.
- Cook sauce, whisking occasionally, for 8-10 minutes, until it has thickened and reached a low simmer.
- Turn off the heat. Add cheese and spinach to sauce. Stir until cheese has melted.
- Add cooked pasta to sauce and stir to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately and garnish with some fresh cracked black pepper if you like.
Shred your own cheese for best results. Store-bought shredded cheese is often coated with preservatives that prevent it from melting smoothly, resulting in a grainy sauce. Shred your own cheese to ensure it melts smoothly!
Don’t skimp on the salt and pepper here! With so few ingredients, seasoning is especially important in this recipe. While the flavors here are on the mellow side, we recommend using plenty of fresh cracked black pepper and a generous pinch of salt in this recipe to help the flavors pop.
Additions and Substitutions. Use any pasta shape you like here – we prefer shorter pastas with plenty of pockets (like shells, cavatappi, or rigatoni) to help catch all the sauce. Add extra veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, roasted squash, tomatoes, bell peppers, peas, kale, extra spinach) or your favorite protein (chicken, chorizo, andouille, bacon) to this recipe to stretch it a bit and make it heartier. Use white cheddar, goat cheese, gruyere, or parmesan in place of some or all of the havarti if you like.
To lighten up the cheese sauce, substitute 1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock for 1 cup of the milk. You can also swap the milk, butter, and flour here for our favorite (vegan) Magic Cauliflower Cream Sauce!
Keywords: cheese sauce, macaroni, comfort food