Quinoa Macaroni and Cheese with Spinach

Macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite foods!  I could eat it ALL THE TIME… but I shouldn’t.  So I decided to look for a healthier alternative and hit the jackpot: Quinoa macaroni and cheese with spinach.  By substituting quinoa for pasta you’re getting a healthy, high-protein whole grain and the spinach helps you get your daily vegetable servings, all while satisfying those comfort food cravings.

Quinoa Mac and Cheese

I found this recipe on Pinterest.  Many of the recipes I have found there don’t live up to my expectations, but this one was a winner!  This simple recipe can be whipped up in a relatively short amount of time, and the healthy spin allows you to enjoy the hot, gooey, cheesy goodness without the guilt!

Quinoa Macaroni and Cheese with Spinach

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 2, as a side

Ingredients

3/4 c. Cooked Quinoa (1/4 c. quinoa cooked in 1/2 c. water)
3/4 tbsp. Butter
3/4 tbsp. Flour
3/8 c. Milk
Dash Salt
2 oz. Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Handful Spinach, torn into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp. Freshly-grated Parmesan
1 tbsp. Butter, melted
3 tbsp. Panko crumbs

1.  Melt 3/4 tbsp. butter over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, whisk in flour to form a paste (see photo below).  Gradually whisk in milk then bring to a boil.  The “gradually” part is important.  By adding the milk in stages, whisking until smooth between each addition, you avoid lumps in your sauce.

Quinoa Mac and Cheese - Flour

2.  Once the milk mixture is boiling, remove from the heat and add the cheese and salt.  Stir until smooth.

3.  Fold cheese sauce and spinach into quinoa.

Quinoa Mac and Cheese - Fold in Spinach

This may look like a lot of spinach for the amount of quinoa, but it shrinks a lot as it cooks.

4.  Place quinoa in baking dish and top with parmesan.  (Being a bit of a cheese snob, I always use freshly-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano)

Quinoa Mac and Cheese - Parmesan

5.  Mix melted butter (again, I don’t use real butter) and panko crumbs in a bowl, then sprinkle over the top of the baking dish.

6.  Bake at 350° for 20 minutes until the panko crumbs are golden brown and the cheese sauce is bubbling.

Quinoa Mac and Cheese

Gorgeous!  Grab a spoon and serve it up…

Quinoa Mac and Cheese - Yum!

I know your mouth’s watering by now, but try not to burn your tongue.  This crunchy, delicious side is sure to satisfy your taste buds!   Enjoy with one of our Main Dishes.

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