Spinach artichoke dip — that party favorite — meets creamy macaroni and cheese with Gouda in this easy, delicious recipe.
Once upon a time in a far off place macaroni and cheese was a dinner staple created so often that I realized it was faster and better just to make it from scratch. Okay, so maybe that far off place was really just our old house, which is conspicuously close to our new house. And perhaps that time was within the last several years. But the result is the same: when we have macaroni and cheese, I start with butter, flour, milk and cheese.
I just don’t do boxes.
Except, recently on a busy night when we were out of cheese, I did use a box … and it was a minor disaster. Will took a few bites and made a face. This is the boy who convinced me to try anchovies years ago because he loved them — which is to say that he eats everything. Well, everything except macaroni and cheese from a box, apparently. He asked why I didn’t make it from scratch.
Paige, on the other hand, will eat any macaroni and cheese you put in front of her. Such different children, they are.
All this is to say that I’m going to stick with making mac and cheese from scratch — it just makes life easier. And tastier.
When I was devising a recipe to include in Mac and Cheese Mania! — a fun event devised by Rachel of Rachel Cooks and Brandy of Nutmeg Nanny — I wanted a different but delicious recipe that combined a favorite dish with the wonderful comfort that is macaroni and cheese.
Spinach artichoke dip came to mind. This dip has been a favorite of mine for so long, that I cannot remember when I first tried it. And I realized that with a few little tweaks of my favorite basic, easy macaroni and cheese recipe, these two dishes would be a crazy easy mash-up.
We all know how much I love quick and easy recipes, right? Because I do. I really, really do. And Creamy Spinach Artichoke Macaroni and Cheese with Gouda is totally a quick and easy recipe.
You start with unsalted butter. Melt it. Then whisk in flour until a bubbling paste forms. Add milk and let it cook for a bit until it gets thick — you can fill the sauce become harder to stir. Then, add cubes of mild gouda, a hearty amount of chopped spinach (it literally goes from the freezer to the pot!) and chopped artichoke hearts. Let it simmer while you stir it and that cheese will melt into the sauce.
Once it’s all creamy and the cheese is completely melted, stir in some sharp Romano cheese, spicy crushed red peppers and salt. Fold the pasta in too, and you have a hearty, comforting, unforgettable dinner that spinach artichoke dip loves and macaroni and cheese lovers can all appreciate.
Now, dig in.
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 lb Gouda cheese, rind removed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 cups frozen chopped spinach
- 1 14.1- oz can quartered artichoke hearts, chopped
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
- 2-3 tsp kosher salt, to taste
- 1 lb pasta of your choice, cooked per manufacturer's instructions
- In a dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Add the milk a little at a time until it's been fully incorporated. Bring the milk mixture to a boil, whisking frequently, and then cook for 1 minute.
- Stir the Gouda, spinach and artichoke hearts into the milk mixture and reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese is melted. Stir in the Romano, crushed red pepper and salt until fully combined.
- Add the pasta to the pot and toss well to combine.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of four cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to a tween and a teen, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.