This luxurious Creamy Artichoke Mac ‘N’ Cheese is the epitome of comfort food!
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!
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!
- 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
- 6 Tablespoons White Rice Flour or All Purpose Flour
- 5 Cups Milk
- 2 Cups Pecorino – finely grated
- 2 Cups Cheddar Cheese – grated
- 8 oz. Container Mascarpone
- 1 Tablespoon Sea Salt
- 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1 Pound Brown Rice Elbow Macaroni
- 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
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.
Next, add the butter to the onions, when melted stir in the flour, and cook the mixture, stirring, for about 1 minutes.
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.
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.
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.