Cheesy spinach macaroni

I'm not very good at planning dinner ahead of time. I shop with half a list and only half an idea of what I want to make that week. So when it's late afternoon and I still have no clue what I'm going to put on the table that night, pasta is usually the first thing that comes to mind. It's quick, I usually have the ingredients around, and it's oh so yummy. Ask my 3-year-old for his opinion on pasta though and he'll tell you, "I don't wike it." Honestly, I wonder about him sometimes.

Creamy macaroni and cheese is a fun one because so many things can be added to it. You can do a crumb topping or add a can of chopped tomatoes. You can throw some tomato paste in the cheese sauce or use fresh herbs. I also like chopped ham or leftover chicken. This time I reached for the bunch of fresh spinach in the fridge.

Here's how I made it:

4 cups dry pasta
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 cups shredded cheese (I used a blend of monterey jack, mozzarella, and cheddar)
a few handfuls of fresh spinach leaves

I started by pouring the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water to cook. In a medium saucepan, I preheated the oil over medium heat and added the onion and garlic. When the onion began to soften, I added the thyme and flour, stirring until the flour was absorbed. Keeping the heat on medium, I added the milk and dijon mustard, stirring until the sauce came to a boil. Another 30-60 seconds later the sauce was nicely thickened, so I removed it from the heat and stirred in the cheese. Ooey gooey good! Once the pasta was cooked, I strained it and poured it back into the large pot. Then I poured the sauce over the pasta and stirred it all up. The spinach leaves were stirred in last and they quickly softened from the heat of the pasta and sauce.

I think this one gets two syllables: YU-UM!

How far ahead do you plan meals? What are some of your last-minute faves? What do you like to add to mac and cheese? 


  1. Yum! I try to plan our meals everytime we do our weekly grocery shop. I have a meal planner magnet notepad on my fridge where I write down what I planned on making that week. It doesn't always work, but it sure saves me a lot of trips to the grocery store and moula :)

  2. You got that one right! Your little one is too cute. I'm like you, not one to plan to far in advance. Looks delish!

  3. I made it last night and it's soooo good!

  4. that looks so good - both my faves - mac and cheese and spinach!!

    do you have any good Quiche recipes? i have made a few to dismal results. keep in mind my cooking skills suck - baking though i can do ;-)

    Kirsten :)

  5. Luv - I think I need to start writing down a vague idea of the week's meals too. For sure those extra trips to the grocery store make me spend more. Plus, they make cooking seem like more work than it needs to be.

    Cupcake - Thanks :) Cute but a little picky! I'm working on it.

    ShannonB - SOOOO glad you liked it! Thanks for letting me know.

    Kirsten - Tell ya what... I'll get working on a quiche recipe. Check back soon!

  6. Love this site, def will try and visit frequently to find new recipes. my meals are always last minute (i live in peru and i have a bodega below me, so those trips to the store aren't so bad). i love inventing new meals in the kitchen. as of late my husband has been enjoying the inventions ;)

  7. Amy - I'll definitely try this recipe. Do you have a recipe for barley salad? Lucy is crazy for the stuff now.

  8. Stacey - I haven't made barley salad before, but this recipe for apple barley salad looks very kid-friendly:

  9. Yumm! Thanks. I googled barley salad but this is new... I've added it to my bookmarks and will whip it together this weekend.

  10. Like adding cauliflower or chick pees puree .... Onion sautee, sometimes mushroom soup and peas and bake!

  11. I'm making this tonight! Can't wait!! :)

  12. افضل شركة رش مبيدات بالخرج تقدم خدمات رش مبيدات مع الضمان