Baked Spinach Mac & Cheese with Roasted Eggplant
Macaroni and cheese is loved all over. Whether using dairy or non-dairy products, you can still easily make an excellent dish - with lots of room for personalization! This version combines the goodness of green vegetables with the great tastes of both roasted veggies and mac & cheese. We tested this recipe with a mix of cheddar, Gouda and Gorgonzola, but any combination would work wonders, shredded or crumbled.
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- 1 eggplant
- 2-4 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Tbsp garlic (2-4 cloves, crushed)
- 3/4 pound elbow macaroni
- (optional) 1 Tbsp Indian Five-Spice Curry Powder
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup finely minced onion
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups 2% milk
- kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2-3 cups spinach leaves, washed & thinly sliced
- 2 cup shredded or crumbled cheese (your fave)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Slice eggplant crosswise into pinky finger thick slices. On a baking sheet, sprinkle evenly with garlic, add salt and pepper to taste and evenly glaze with olive oil. For extra kick, add some crushed chilies. Roast for 20 minutes, turning just after half way through. Remove from oven and line large casserole dish bottom with slices. Turn heat down to 375 degrees.
- While eggplant is cooking, bring water to a boil to cook pasta until al dente. Follow instructions on package for best results. For a tasty flavour enhancement, add Curry powder to water before pasta.
- In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in flour until mixture is golden. Add whole milk, whisking constantly. Add 2% milk; raise heat to medium-high, bring to a boil and continue to whisk until sauce is smooth and thickened, 10 to 12 minutes. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
- Add spinach to sauce; give it a few stirs until spinach is wilted. Stir in cheeses until melted and well combined. Add cooked pasta and stir. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper, if desired.
- Pour mac and cheese into eggplant-lined casserole dish. Top with extra cheese or breadcrumbs, or a mixture of either paired with any remaining eggplant, diced. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top is brown.