This Creamy Spinach Pasta Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipe is an upscale version of a childhood classic. The addition of spinach, a light pesto sauce, and a delicious blend of Parmesan and pecorino cheese creates a mouthwatering pasta dish. This flavor combination is surprisingly full of flavor and packed cheesy goodness.
How to Make Creamy Spinach Pasta
This delicious spin on a classic homemade mac and cheese recipe begins with a homemade pesto sauce. A food processor or high powered blender is needed to create that smooth texture of pine nuts, basil, parmesan cheese, olive oil, and of course, garlic. You will blend this mixture until it is not only combined but until all ingredients have been pureed into a rich sauce.
Next, you will cook your pasta as directed. I prefer a perfectly al dente macaroni for this creamy spinach pasta. Not hard, but with a bit of texture. Whatever you do, make sure you don't overcook your pasta!
While your pasta is cooking, you will make a simple roux with butter, flour, and milk in a large stockpot or deep skillet. Once the roux is made, you will stir in the remaining cheese, spices, and 1/4 cup of the homemade pesto sauce. Once this is combined, you will add in your spinach and cooked macaroni.
Stir well until all macaroni is covered in this delightful creamy sauce.
SERVING THIS HOMEMADE MAC AND CHEESE RECIPE
I love to serve with a bit of fresh cracked black pepper and freshly shave Parmesan on top! While I think this creamy spinach pasta recipe is perfect by itself, you may prefer to serve this as a side dish. If that is the case, then it works wonderfully alongside a nicely cooked steak, grilled chicken, or even sauteed shrimp.
Whatever protein you choose to go along with this homemade mac and cheese recipe, you will want to make sure it is a bit lighter or without a sauce. The richness of this pasta dish is more than enough to satisfy your tastebuds.
Feel free to add more vegetables to the mix by stirring in some steamed broccoli or cauliflower florets to add bulk, fiber, and nutrients to this recipe for creamy spinach pasta.
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MORE HOMEMADE MAC AND CHEESE RECIPES
Creamy Spinach Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 lb elbow macaroni
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 2 cups skim milk
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tbsp. onion powder
- 1/3 lb frozen spinach thawed and excess water squeezed out
- PESTO SAUCE
- 1 1/2 cup basil leaves
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp olive oil
- Optional: You can use fresh store bought pesto as well
- In a food processor, combine basil, garlic, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. Puree until combined. As the food processor continues to run, slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook the elbow macaroni according to the instructions on the package. Drain and set aside.
- In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook until well combined. Whisk in milk and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook until thickened, approximately 5 minutes.
- Remove skillet from heat and whisk in cheeses, 1/4 cup pesto, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and salt. Stir in macaroni and spinach. Cook for 7-10 minutes. Serve immediately.
- Use enough cold, fresh water that once the pasta begins to cook and expand, there will still be plenty of room for the pasta to move freely.
- Starches absorb water instantly and you want the water temperature to be extremely hot to begin cooking the noodles properly.
- Bulk up the creamy pasta with more veggies if you like!
- Drain your pasta enough to remove most of the water, but don’t let drained pasta sit and “dry off”. As it cools, the starches will firm up and the pasta will stick together.