Silverthorne resident Tieghan Gerard is back with more scrumptious recipes in her second cookbook, Half Baked Harvest Super Simple. It’s full of easy-to-make comfort foods the whole family will love, like this spinach and artichoke mac and cheese bake, which can be modified to your family’s liking.
Spinach and Artichoke Mac-and-Cheese Bake
Serves: 6 to 8
You know those fallback recipes? The ones you make over and over again? Well this is mine. It’s the easiest and best mac-and-cheese recipe. It uses just one pot, and the ingredients and methods are simple. My trick is to first boil the pasta in just enough water to start the cooking process, then add milk and cream cheese. That means there’s no boiling and draining the pasta and no fussing around with making a roux either. Plus the cream cheese creates a light and creamy sauce without having to add any additional flour like in a béchamel.
What’s really great about this recipe is just how adaptable it is. When my brothers are around, I omit the veggies, but I include a few chipotle peppers in adobo, and I use half pepper Jack and half cheddar cheese. It’s one of their favorites! —Tieghan Gerard
- 6 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
- 1 (1-pound) box short-cut pasta, such as macaroni
- 2 cups whole milk (see Note)
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, cubed
- 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Ground cayenne pepper
- 2 cups packed fresh baby spinach, chopped
- 1 (8-ounce) jar marinated artichokes, drained and roughly chopped
- 1½ cups crushed Ritz crackers (about 1 sleeve)
- ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9 × 13-inch baking dish.
- In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes. Stir in the milk and cream cheese and cook until the cream cheese has melted and the pasta is al dente, about 5 minutes more.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 2 cups of the cheddar and 3 tablespoons of the butter. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Stir in the spinach and artichokes. If the sauce feels too thick, add ¼ cup of milk or water to thin it.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top with the remaining 1 cup of cheddar.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the crackers, the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, and the garlic powder. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the mac and cheese.
- Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the crumbs are golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve. Store any leftovers refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Note: Have a little extra milk or water on hand. Once you’ve added everything, you can decide whether you’re happy with the consistency. If you need to thin the sauce out a bit, simply add more liquid.
Find more of Gerard’s recipes at halfbakedharvest.com.
Reprinted from Half Baked Harvest Super Simple. Copyright © 2019 by Tieghan Gerard. Photographs copyright © 2019 by Tieghan Gerard. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.