Mac & Cheese & Greens

Last night's dinner felt pretty blog-worthy. Tonight's, not so much. But I'll share it anyway in the interest of keeping the momentum going.

I cobbled this recipe together out of several different ones I've seen around the webs lately. It's a simple premise: mac and cheese that's actually kind of healthy. Less cheese; more veggies (greens and butternut squash); whole wheat pasta. You can throw the whole thing together in the time it takes to boil the pasta water and cook the macaroni, which is great on a weeknight.

This is a good way to put to use any leafy greens you've got in the fridge that look a little past their prime. Even if they're all wilted, it doesn't matter, because you're just going to saute them up and make a sauce out of them anyway. The only important thing is to wash them really well -- and not just under running water, I'm talking about swirling them around in a big bowl of cold water for at least 2-3 minutes. You'll notice a ton of dirt left in the bowl when you take the greens out.

If you want, you can puree the sauce in a blender or food processor before stirring the pasta in, but I left mine as-is because let's face it, I'm kind of lazy.

Mac & Cheese & Greens
  • 2 cups dry whole-wheat macaroni elbows
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pound greens, cleaned and chopped (such as spinach, kale, collards, turnip greens, or my personal preference, chard)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
  • About 1 cup of pureed butternut squash (about 2/3 of a can)
  • Nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used low-fat cheddar)
Prepare the pasta according to package directions. In the meantime, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the greens, garlic, and salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Saute for about 4-5 minutes, or until greens are tender. Add squash, broth or water, and nutmeg to taste; heat through. Stir in cheese. At this point your pasta should be done, so add it to the pan and mix well. Add more broth or water if sauce is too thick. Serves 3-4.