Thursday, November 17, 2011

Spinach Artichoke Mac & Cheese

Mac and cheese is still one of my favorite comfort foods... and being gluten free isn't going to change that! When on Twitter last week, Erin of The Spiffy Cookie mentioned a recent dish she made. It was a Gluten Free Bacon Swiss Penne that I immediately planned to make. However, when I realized I didn't have everything required, I quickly made something similar inspired by her recipe. That's when this Spinach Artichoke Mac & Cheese was born! Imagine a mac and cheese with the flavors of a classic spinach artichoke dip... not to mention a little chicken and bacon too!...

Spinach Artichoke dip is one of my family favorites and I'm surprised I haven't turned incorporated popular dip recipe with macaroni. Thanks to Erin, she inspired me to come up with this recipe. I cooked the bacon and chicken beforehand, along with the pasta. The key part of this dish is the spinach artichoke cheese sauce. A roux of butter and {gluten free} flour kicks things off to make a simple white sauce with milk. A little cream cheese is added to give the sauce a nice richness. Next is some mozzarella cheese, spinach, artichoke, and garlic powder to make a cheesy sauce. The pasta, chicken and bacon are tossed in and everything is baked up until bubbly and lightly browned. Heaven, I tell you!


Spinach Artichoke Mac & Cheese
recipe inspired by Erin of The Spiffy Cookie

8 0z. uncooked macaroni (gluten free pasta works great!)
10 bacon strips, cooked & crumbled
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into medium dice
3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (I used 2%)
4 ounces cream cheese (half a brick)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 cup marinated artichokes, drained and chopped
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
Garnish - additional mozzarella or Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9″ baking dish and set aside.

Cook penne according to the package directions; drain and set aside.

In a dutch oven over medium high heat, work in batches and add bacon in a single layer to the pan. Cook until crisp, remove from pan and transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Once all bacon is cooked, crumble into a large bowl and set aside.

In the same dutch oven over medium heat, use bacon renderings and add 1 tablespoon butter. Add chicken, sautéing until cooked through. Transfer cooked chicken to bowl with bacon and set aside.

In a dutch oven over medium heat, add remaining butter and melt in pot. Add flour and whisk until flour smell cooks off, about 1 minute. Gradually add milk, a 1/2 cup at a time to pot while continuing to whisk. Mixture will thicken.

Add cream cheese to dutch oven and whisk until melted through. Add mozzarella cheese, spinach, artichoke, and garlic powder. Stir with wooden spoon until fully incorporated and mozzarella cheese is melted through.

Add cooked chicken, bacon and macaroni. Stir to combine and coat the pasta.

Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish and bake in preheated oven uncovered for 30 minutes or until lightly browned on top.

To serve, garnish with additional shredded mozzarella or parmesan cheese.