Creamy Artichoke Mac ‘N’ Cheese

This luxurious Creamy Artichoke Mac ‘N’ Cheese is the epitome of comfort food!

creamy-artichoke-mac-n-cheese I am all about a good mac n cheese, but I am often disappointed.  It’s either not creamy enough, bland, overcooked or undercooked.  This mac ‘n’ cheese is utterly creamy and full of flavor.  The artichoke hearts add a bit more richness in the most delightful way!

creamy-artichoke-mac-n-cheese I have been obsessed with macaroni and cheese ever since I can remember.

My friend Cathy lived across the street from our junior high school “John Adams” when we were in the 7th grade.  Students were not allowed to leave the school during lunch, however, kids that lived very close by could get special permission to go home for lunch.  My mom was into health food, which meant whole wheat bread and brown rice but all I wanted at the time was macaroni and cheese!  My friend Cathy would invite me over to her house for lunch quite often.  I was able to sneak out with Cathy even though I did not live close by because the guard at the gate liked us.  It was heavenly for me, not only because of the food but because I got to leave school!  We would make Kraft mac n cheese, grilled cheese with Kraft sliced cheese and wonder bread and spaghetti O’s!  I couldn’t get enough.

Fortunately, in the ninth grade, I got back into healthier foods.  I had enrolled myself into an alternative school where we were allowed to leave the campus during lunch.  My friends and I would walk down to Main St. and would sometimes get a large salad to share and a slice of pizza at Wildflour pizza.  (I know, the pizza wasn’t healthy but come on!)  Other times we would buy prepared foods at “One Life” health food store.

I remember trying those processed foods later in life and thinking to myself how in the heck did I think it tasted good?  Spaghetti O’s are mushy and sweet, Kraft mac and cheese never had enough cheese and it’s orange and wonder bread is doughy.  This artichoke mac n cheese really captures the memory of my youth Kraft version with the added healthier wholesome ingredients!

creamy-artichoke-mac-n-cheese This Creamy Artichoke Mac ‘n’ Cheese is great with a Pinot Gris or a Soave.

creamy-artichoke-mac-n-cheese Creamy Artichoke Mac ‘n’ Cheese Recipe:
6 – 8 servings
  • 3 to 4 Artichoke Hearts – cooked – hearts roughly chopped (you can use 2 Cans if you prefer)
  • 1/2 White Onion – diced
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1/3 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 6 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1/4 Cup +2 Tablespoons Sweet Rice Flour or All Purpose Flour
  • 5 Cups Milk
  • 1 8 oz. Container Mascarpone
  • 2 Cups Pecorino – finely grated
  • 2 Cups Cheddar Cheese – grated
  • 1 Tablespoon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 Pound Brown Rice Elbow Macaroni
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
 Instructions:
Artichokes
There are two ways you can prepare artichoke hearts.  One is the way Jack Pepin prepares them.   This way is a lot faster to cook.  Cooking time will depend on the size and quantity. Place in boiling water, turn down to medium-high and then simmer for 15 – 20 minutes.
 Or
Cut the stem off the artichoke.  Place them in a large pot of boiling water and place a wet towel on top to keep them wet and immersed during cooking.
 Boil for about 35 – 50 minutes, depending on the size.  Don’t cover with a lid or they can become bitter.  Check on water levels.  Test a leaf to see if it’s ready, it should pull off easily.  You don’t want to overcook them.  Pull out of the water and turn upside down to drain any excess water.  Enjoy the leaves for your lunch.
Cool the artichokes, remove leaves and scrape away the hairy part.  Roughly chop up the hearts.
While the artichokes are cooking, shred the cheese, dice the onions and mince the garlic.
If using canned artichoke hearts, pull all the leaves off and discard or use in another dish.  Roughly chop up the hearts.
Onions

Add the onions to a large heavy saucepan, saute in olive oil over medium-low heat, stirring until the onions are softened.  Add the garlic and stir until it starts to brown, add the wine and let reduce to a syrup.  Make sure the wine is completely reduced before adding the fat.

Sauce

Next, add the butter to the onions, when melted stir in the flour, and cook the mixture, stirring, for about 2 minutes.

Add the milk a little at a time while whisking constantly. Bring the milk to a simmer.  Whisk in the mascarpone.  Add the Pecorino a little at at time and stir until completely melted then remove from heat and add cheddar a little at a time until melted then add the salt.  Cover and set aside until artichokes are done.
Pasta

 In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni for 4 minutes. You want it less than al dente because the pasta will continue to cook in the oven.  Drain and put into 3-quart gratin dish.  When the artichokes are cooled and chopped, add to the pasta and mix together.

Assemble

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Spread the pasta/artichokes on the bottom of a 3-quart casserole dish.

Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta/artichokes.

 Place on the middle shelf for 35 – 45  minutes or until it is golden and bubbly.
Notes: When you make the sauce, you might think you have made a mistake and made too much, but trust me it’s perfect.  Because the pasta is undercooked it will soak up some of the sauce while leaving enough for an extremely creamy mac n cheese.  You can cook the artichokes the day before if you want.  If not, I start by cooking the artichokes and while they are cooking, I prep all the components and set them aside until the artichokes are ready.   After the pasta is drained I stir in a little olive oil to prevent them from sticking.  Toss the artichoke with the pasta, top with sauce and bake!
*
creamy-artichoke-mac-n-cheese  Health Benefits:

Artichokes are a rich source of dietary fiber, which is great for the colon and heart. The bitter compounds contribute to cholesterol reduction in the blood. They contain good amounts of antioxidant vitamin-C and other antioxidants that protect the body from harmful free radical. It is also rich in B-complex group. They are one of the vegetable sources of vitamin K that is good for bone and brain health. Artichokes have a powerful liver protectant called flavonoid silymarin making it a powerful detoxifier.

Comments

  1. Lynn | The Road to Honey says

    How true to think back to the foods that you once thought were the best. I have the same reaction to Sunny Delight. . .couldn’t get enough of it when I was a child even though it was forbidden in my house. Now, as an adult, I can’t even palate it. As for Kraft Mac n Cheese. . .I think I’m probably the only kid that never really ate that growing up. Like you, I grew up in a healthy household. . .so processed foods like this were “no bueno”. But homemade macaroni & cheese. . .I don’t eat pasta that often because. . .you know. . .”a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips”. . .but when I do. . .I usually go for this cheesy, homemade delight.

    • wavatar says

      So, you know exactly what I mean! I hear ya about pasta and the hips! I don’t have the same problem with brown rice pasta, though. Thanks for stopping by girlfriend! xO

  2. says

    This MacNcheese flavor combination is fantastic, Steph. I’m drooling right now. I’m glad you came up with a more flavorful & healthier version of this everyone’ s childhood favorite meal. LOVE

    • wavatar says

      Thank you, my friend! I ate it all week long, haha! It’s a little more healthy but very cheesy and oh so good! Sometimes you just have to indulge! xO

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