I'm going to share something with you and I know that quite a few of you will be shocked by my revelation.
Wait for it...
I didn't have Mac & Cheese until I was in college.
I know, I know! You're shocked. It just wasn't something that was served in my house and, well, I'm a little picky about what cheeses I will and won't eat. But I'm getting better.
But, thanks to my husband, Mac & Cheese is a staple in our house. Nothing easier those nights you come home and haven't the faintest idea what to make - and quickly.
This dish, however, you could prepare in the morning and come home to. It's one of the ultimate comfort foods and with this recipe, it's got a little more nutrition in it! (And yes, absolutely no actual cheese or dairy.) The recipe is a little unusual, but I have a feeling it could become a hit in my house on a regular basis!
Mac & Cheese Florentine
From Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker
8 ounces elbow macaroni
10-ounce package frozen spinach, cooked according to package instructions and well-drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-size yellow onion
1/2 cup unsalted raw cashews
1 1/3 cups water
1 15.5-oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1. Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl. Add the spinach and toss to combine. Set aside.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat, add the onion, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
3. Grind the cashews to a powder in a blender or food processor. Add 1 cup of the water and blend until smooth. Add the onion, beans, and the remaining 3/4 cup water, the lemon juice, mustard, cayennne, and nutmeg and season with salt. Blend until smooth, then taste to adjust the seasonings. Pour the sauce over the macaroni and spinach and mix well.
4. Transfer the mixture to lightly oiled 4 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on Low for 3 hours.
5. Close to serving time, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs, stirring to coat them with the oil. Cook, stirring, until lightly toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. When ready to serve, sprinkle the toasted crumbs on top of the casserole.