Okay people I know it's summer and you're thinking "Mac and Cheese? Really???", but trust me on this one. Or rather, trust Vaish at Chefette Spicy on this one.
When I saw this post of hers I knew I had to make it. I frantically added the ingredients to my grocery list and went out that night (at 9) to do groceries so I could make this pasta happen asap. Also my fridge was weirdly empty and that was just freaking me out. Just fyi, I am now at the other extreme and equally freaked out.
Corn, spinach, and cheese. What's not to love? I usually find that 'lightened' up versions of dishes just don't work for me, but Vaish clearly knows what she is doing because this recipe is DELICIOUS. Like really, really freakin' good. And you know the desi in me couldn't help, but add a few green chilies - and then the desi of me remembered she had a jar of Sambal Oelek in her fridge...I am not a fan of hot sauce on everything, but on this it really works.
Reduced Fat Spinach and Corn Mac and Cheese
One pound macaroni elbows or any small size pasta
½ cup all purpose flour
2 cups 2% milk
Half cup water with a bouillon cube dissolved into it - I used chicken, feel free to use veggie or water
Eight Oz Container of low-fat cream cheese
Four to Five cups fresh spinach, washed and chopped
One cup cooked sweet corn kernels
Half tsp nutmeg
Four oz reduced fat Colby Jack cheese shredded
Four pods garlic, finely chopped
2 green chilies - finely diced (optional)
One Tbsp butter
Two Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional add in: 1.5-2 cups cooked chicken in bite sized pieces
Cook the pasta according to package instructions, drain the water and keep aside.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add spinach and let it wilt. Add the sweet corn.
Then comes the cream cheese. When the cheese has melted then season and taste. Set aside.
Now, heat the olive oil on medium then saute the garlic a little until it gives off that wonderful savory smell. Sprinkle flour and saute for a few minutes. Turn the heat down and slowly add the milk to this mix whisking briskly to avoid lumps. Add the green chilies, pepper and nutmeg, turn the heat up a little. When the sauce becomes nice and thick then pour in the 'stock' and cook for another five minutes. When you can dip a spoon in the sauce, run a finger along the back, and have the streak hold its shape then you're done.
Add the cheese, mix well. Then add the spinach mix. Check for seasoning, add salt if needed.
Mix in the pasta then bake for 30 minutes, until it is bubbling and gooey.