Why eggplant and spinach?  Because we are heading out of town this weekend and that is what is left to be used up in my fridge.  I’ve made this recipe hundreds of times, well, not this exact one.  Mac & Cheese is your basic bechamel sauce, a white sauce.  Butter and flour cooked into a roux which is used to thicken milk…also known as the easiest way to turn anything in your fridge into a pasta dinner.

SpinachEggplantMac

 

You can use any veggies you want, any short pasta you want, any cheese you want, and add any meat if you want.  Bell pepper and cauliflower, chicken and artichoke, broccoli and deli ham, bacon tomato and zucchini….yes yes yes, anything works.  A classic dish, made healthier with vegetables.

EggplantSpinachMac&Cheese (2)

SpinachEggplantMac (3)

Recipe: Eggplant Spinach Mac & Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 eggplant, cut into 1 inch cubes, oil salt and pepper
  • 1 lb penne or any short pasta
  • 3 T butter
  • 3 T flour
  • 3 c milk
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 6 cranks fresh black pepper
  • 2 to 3 cups shredded cheese (I used cheddar, provolone, and Parmesan)–save some for the top
  • 1 bag or box fresh spinach, about 5 oz, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 c Panko bread crumbs

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 convection bake. Roast eggplant with olive oil, salt and pepper on a baking sheet until browned and tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, boil water and cook pasta using package instructions. Drain and reserve.
  3. In the time it takes the pasta to cook, make the sauce. Melt butter in a large pot (big enough to toss everything together at the end, I used a soup pot) over medium heat. Add flour and whisk together for 1 minute.  Add milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  4. Whisk often while the milk heats up, when it begins to bubble and thicken, turn the heat off and whisk in the cheese, reserve about a cup for the topping.
  5. Mix in the spinach, it will wilt in the heat of the sauce.
  6. Add the pasta and roasted eggplant and stir until well combined.  Taste and add salt and pepper if needed
  7. Transfer to 2 small or 1 large casserole pan, top with remaining cheese and breadcrumbs.
  8. Broil in the oven, watching so it doesn’t burn, until breadcrumbs start to brown and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.
  9. If you want to save one in your fridge or freezer, do not broil it, cool in the fridge, then cover with aluminum foil. To reheat, thaw in the fridge overnight, then bake with the foil on at 350 for about 30 minutes and then broil for 5 minutes with the foil removed.
  10. Serve with a green salad, enjoy!

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 45 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

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Eggplant Spinach Mac & Cheese
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