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I recently submitted a recipe for the third annual Macaroni & Cheese Blog to celebrate National Cheese Lover’s Day sponsored by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. I didn’t need to be asked twice! We love cheese over here and probably have mac & cheese 3 times per week. Okay, that’s partly because my 2 year old loves it so much. He either wants mac & cheese or a nutella/peanut sandwich and really can you blame him…he’s got great taste! He loved being my helper for day.
Besides Mexican food, I cannot seem to get enough Greek and Mediterranean food. I love it, so I thought I would incorporate into a decadent and rich mac & cheese. I was actually inspired by a feta cheese and macaroni gratin that we recently had on vacation that used feta as the main cheese in the dish. It was so rich, creamy, and delicious that we actually had to go back to the restaurant and order it again.
This is my version all jazzed up with those wonderful Mediterranean flavors that I love. I wanted to make it a little heartier so that we could enjoy it as a meal with a green salad, but could also pair it with a nice New York Strip steak too. Honestly, I think the kids liked this too much! Even my regular mac & cheese loving 2 year old had seconds. I won’t tell you that my husband went around and ate bites off of everyone’s plate (even after having seconds as well).
- 1/8 cup red onion, finely diced
- 4 oz pancetta, finely diced
- 2 tbsp butter, if needed
- 2 tbsp flour
- 10 ounces milk (1 1/4 cups)
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ cup spinach, roughly chopped
- 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
- 2 tbsp sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
- Salt and white pepper
- 2 cups cooked elbow macaroni (I use large elbow macaroni)
- In a large skillet, sauté pancetta until cooked and fat rendered (about 5 minutes). Remove pancetta from pan and place on plate lined with a paper towel.
- Add red onion to pan and cook just until tender (about 5 minutes). Remove from pan and add to reserved pancetta.
- If there is not enough rendered fat to equal about two tablespoons then add enough butter to hot skillet to make up the difference. Add flour. Stir and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Lower heat to med-low and add milk. Stir well to combine flour mixture and milk. Turn heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer, stirring continuously. Add garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine.
- Add in feta cheese slowly, stirring well after each addition. (The smaller the crumbles, the easier it will melt.) Gently stir in spinach, tomatoes, and reserved pancetta and onion. Mix with cooked elbow macaroni.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 292 Total Fat: 19g Saturated Fat: 10g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 8g Cholesterol: 45mg Sodium: 346mg Carbohydrates: 20g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 2g Protein: 10g
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