Featured Wisconsin Cheeses: Cheddar, Havarti, Parmesan
Few things in life have a direct correlation to our childhood memories the way that macaroni and cheese does. As adults we can live those memories again, with slightly more adventurous mac than what comes out of the blue box. There are so many delectable variations of mac and cheese it only seemed right to combine two of my favorite things – mac and cheese and spinach and artichoke dip into one bowl of cheesy love.
Incorporating creamy Wisconsin Havarti, Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses took this mac and cheese to a whole new level. The creamy Havarti dripped around the noodles in the most delicious way and the Cheddar provided that nice sharp tang just like traditional macaroni and cheese. Perfection in every sense of the word.
Spinach and Artichoke Mac and Cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 6-ounce bag fresh spinach*
1 14-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, roughly chopped, and divided
4 ounces (1/2 cup) cream cheese, softened
1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin Parmesan Cheese, shredded and divided
2 tablespoons shallots, minced
2 tablespoons garlic, minced and divided
1 12-ounce box whole wheat penne pasta
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup (4 ounces) medium Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin Havarti Cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon sriacha sauce
Preheat oven to 400°F. If using fresh spinach, heat olive oil in large sauté pan over medium heat, add spinach and wilt. Remove to plate to cool. Squeeze excess water from spinach. Set aside.
In small bowl, combine half of drained spinach and half of chopped artichoke hearts. Stir in softened cream cheese and ½ cup Parmesan Cheese. Stir in shallots and 1 tablespoon garlic. Pour mixture into oven- safe baking dish and bake for 15 minutes or until the mixture is toasted on top and heated through. Remove from oven; cover to keep warm and set aside.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside. In medium pot, melt butter and whisk in flour. Continue whisking vigorously over medium high heat until roux becomes golden brown. Add milk slowly, 1/2 cup at a time, whisking during each addition. Bring mixture to boil. Add mustard, pepper, 1 tablespoon garlic, remaining cheeses and sriacha sauce. Stir in reserved spinach and artichokes, mixing until evenly incorporated.
Pour pasta into cheese mixture; mix to ensure all pasta is coated evenly. Plate and top with a generous spoonful of warm spinach and artichoke mixture. Serve and devour.
*1 9-ounce package frozen spinach may be substituted for fresh. Thaw and drain spinach, squeezing to remove excess liquid.
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