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Whole Wheat Macaroni and Cheese with Spicy Garlic Swiss Chard

Whole Wheat Macaroni and Cheese with Spicy Garlic Swiss Chard from www.loveandoliveoil.com

What can be said about whole wheat pasta?

Before now, not much. Because I never bought it. Fervently avoided it, in fact. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who couldn’t stand the off-putting texture that can only be described as “thick”. Sure, I choked it down on the pretense of being healthy, but good lord, most whole wheat pasta out there is, frankly, awful.

But I’ll be completely honest here, DeLallo’s Organic Whole Wheat pasta line has completely changed my tune. (Full disclosure goes here, but DeLallo is pretty much awesome or I wouldn’t have agreed to a partnership to begin with.) In all truthfulness, it really is the best whole wheat pasta I’ve ever tried and the only whole wheat pasta that necessitates seconds. And that’s why I’m sharing it here today. (The sharing doesn’t stop here either… stay tuned, as I’ve got an incredible giveaway tomorrow that will have one winner’s pantry OVERFLOWING with whole wheat goodness).

Whole Wheat Macaroni and Cheese with Spicy Garlic Swiss Chard from www.loveandoliveoil.com

This mac ‘n cheese recipe was inspired by my favorite pizza recipe of all time. It’s a white pizza, with swiss chard, goat cheese, and a drizzle of garlic and red pepper-infused olive oil. And it is incredible. But it was not exactly easy to incorporate those flavors into a mac and cheese. The goat cheese proved especially problematic, causing a slightly grainy texture and curdled appearance that was none too appetizing and frankly, overpowered and indistinguishable in the final product.

The solution, ultimately, was to leave the goat cheese out of the cheese sauce and sprinkle it on top instead. With a layer of panko breadcrumbs it’s the perfect flavorful finish to top off the beautifully creamy pasta.

The mix of cheeses inside is just as important, and we found the perfect flavor-slash-meltiness ratio was with a combination of mild cheddar, Gruyere, Pecorino, and a few slices of (gasp!) white American cheese. Hold your horses, it really is the key to the creamiest mac that won’t curdle 3 seconds after you take it out of the pan. The Pecorino is the most stubborn when it comes to melting, but it really adds another dimension of salty flavor that can’t be replaced.

Gigantic Swiss Chard

Ignore the fact that my sweatshirt matches my napkin. You’ll rarely find me matching anything, let alone my clothing and my linens. Total fluke.

And yes, holy Swiss chard, batman! What are they feeding it, anyway?

(Normally you’d need about 8-10 stalks of swiss chard for this recipe, and I recommend the white variety as the red might might turn your cheese a lovely shade of pepto pink. You can also substitute spinach or kale for the chard if you so desire.)

Whole Wheat Macaroni and Cheese with Spicy Garlic Swiss Chard from www.loveandoliveoil.com

In the end, this recipe will not be winning any low-calorie awards, but I think the whole wheat pasta and nutritious greens put it resoundingly on the ‘good’ side of the good-for-you spectrum. Not to mention the delicious one.

Whole Wheat Macaroni and Cheese with Spicy Garlic Swiss Chard

Yield: 6 servings

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound swiss chard (about 8 medium stalks), large ribs removed
  • 8 ounces Delallo® Organic Whole Wheat Elbows
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 ounces mild white cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups grated)
  • 2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (about 2/3 cup grated)
  • 1 ounce Pecorino cheese, finely grated (about 1/2 cup grated)
  • 2 ounces (4 slices) white American cheese, finely chopped
  • 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

Directions:

  1. Place an oven rack in the top half of the oven. Butter an 11-by-7-inch casserole dish (or equivalent). Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
  2. Trim chard leaves and discard any thick ribs. Add leaves to boiling water and blanch for 1 minute or until wilted and bright green in color. Transfer with tongs or a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice water to halt the cooking process.
  3. Return water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook for 5 minutes or until just barely al dente. Strain and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, remove chard from ice water. Squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible. Coarsely chop, then spread out on a layer of paper towel and pat dry. You want to remove as much excess water from the chard as possible.
  5. Heat olive oil in a large, high-sided skillet or saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chopped chard and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until chard is coated and pan is dry. Transfer to a bowl, then wipe out skillet and return to medium heat.
  6. Add butter to skillet. When butter is melted and foamy, sprinkle over flour, whisking to incorporate into a smooth paste. Continue to whisk until frothy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly drizzle in milk, whisking vigorously. If at any point the mixture clumps, continue to whisk until smooth before adding more milk. Continue whisking until all the milk has been added. Cook, whisking regularly, for 7 to 8 minutes or until sauce has thickened to the consistency of heavy cream and just barely starts to simmer around the edges. Remove from heat.
  7. Slowly add cheddar, Gruyere, Pecornio, and American cheeses to milk mixture, one handful at a time, whisking well until incorporated. If the sauce still has noticeable chunks in it (the Pecorino is often slow to melt), return pan to low heat and continue whisking for no more than 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth.
  8. Fold macaroni into cheese sauce until evenly coated, followed by chard mixture.
  9. Pour into prepared dish. Sprinkle with goat cheese and bread crumbs and broil on high for 5 to 6 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and breadcrumbs are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Disclosure: This post was created as part of an ongoing partnership with DeLallo Foods. As always, all opinions written are purely our own. We’re incredibly grateful for opportunities like these that allow us to continue sharing delicious recipes with you, so thank you for supporting us and the brands we love.

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32 CommentsLeave a Comment →

  1. 1
    Posted On January 30, 2014 at 4:20 am

    I love the pic of you hiding. It’s almost as good as when you made taffy. Those faces. Best faces ever :)

    The fact that your sweatshirt and linens match. Whoa. I barely can match my socks. 

    This recipe, love chard. And so impressed that you can get white food on white dishes not to look blindlingly white. I want your secrets!

    Reply

  2. 2
    Posted On January 30, 2014 at 6:20 am

    WOW…that looks so delicious!!
    laura&nora

    Reply

  3. 3
    Posted On January 30, 2014 at 6:57 am

    Should one always eat chard that’s larger than one’s head?

    Seriously- this looks beyond delish!

    Reply

  4. 4
    Posted On January 30, 2014 at 7:20 am

    This looks soooo good to me at 8:20 in the morning. I would do a number on a bowl of this right now! Beautiful pictures and wonderful recipe.

    Reply

  5. 5
    Posted On January 30, 2014 at 7:42 am

    Also.. I just watched the video on your about us page and it’s so cute! It made me smile and laugh this morning, you guys are naturals.

    Reply

  6. 6
    Posted On January 30, 2014 at 7:49 am

    I love this lighter take on mac and cheese – looks awesome!

    Reply

  7. 7
    Posted On January 30, 2014 at 8:22 am

    I love, the idea of whole wheat pasta (I’m kind of a freak about whole grains), but agree that tasty whole wheat pasta options can be lacking. Thanks for the tip on Delallo! I’m adding it to my grocery list. Also, white american cheese?? Who knew! You’ll make a believer of me yet :)

    Reply

  8. 8
    Posted On January 30, 2014 at 8:32 am

    What a fun recipe! Looks delicious! :)

    Reply

  9. 9
    Posted On January 30, 2014 at 8:33 am

    This looks incredible! 

    Reply

  10. 10
    Posted On January 30, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Yummy and healthier. And I like the mix of cheeses. 

    Reply

  11. 11
    Posted On January 30, 2014 at 8:58 am

    I have been majorly craving mac and cheese recently, and this post SO is not helping me fight that craving!! Pinning this, and really hoping I can get my hands on some mac and cheese that looks as good as this does ASAP!

    Reply

  12. 12
    Posted On January 30, 2014 at 9:09 am

    I love the interjection of cheeky photos Linds, so fun!

    and omg this pasta is EVERYTHING. Need/Want/Love/Obsessed/Died/TheEnd

    Reply

  13. 13
    Posted On January 30, 2014 at 9:54 am

    That…cheese….oh my goodness.

    Reply

  14. 14
    Posted On January 30, 2014 at 10:14 am

    amazing looking and sounding

    Reply

  15. 15
    Posted On January 30, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Love the picture with that huge swiss chard! My sister is a cheese and swiss chard lover, and this recipe will be shared with her. Thanks!

    Reply

  16. 16
    Posted On January 30, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Maybe I’m the only weird one who actually likes whole grain pasta, but that’s usually cause I cover it In so much sauce that I can barely tell im eating it! This looks Delish! So much cheese here… Who cares if it doesn’t win any low calorie awards. Sometimes you just gotta go big or go home!

    Reply

  17. 17
    Posted On January 30, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    After the brussel sprouts mac and cheese of yours I made that was so freaking amazing I can only imagine how wonderful this is too. I actually never had any trouble switching to whole wheat pasta, but I know a lot of people who don’t like it.

    Reply

  18. 18
    Posted On January 30, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Putting winter greens into a creamy mac and cheese is one of my favorite tricks! This looks so perfect for a winter’s night. :)

    Reply

  19. 19
    Posted On January 30, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Ah, glad you found the solution to The Goat Cheese Problem (TM). :)

    This looks delicious, by the way. And I actually like most whole wheat pastas; they’re a little more filling, so I eat less. :)

    Reply

    • Posted On January 30, 2014 at 6:07 pm

      Yes! For the better too – you can actually taste the goat cheese when it’s on top. Even using 2x as much inside the mac n cheese and it wasn’t as goaty as I wanted it to be. :)

  20. 20
    Posted On January 31, 2014 at 6:15 am

    Not really a whole wheat pasta fan, but trying to move towards it – just means I do a lot of slathering in sauce!

    Reply

  21. 21
    Posted On January 31, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    This looks incredible! I want this dish very soon!

    Reply

  22. 22
    Posted On January 31, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    Love this!! Need to try their whole wheat pasta too!

    Reply

  23. 23
    Posted On February 2, 2014 at 10:22 am

    oh my..this mac and cheese is mouthwatering! I LOVE all the different cheeses in there! The more the better and this is fantastic!!

    Reply

  24. 24
    Posted On February 4, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Glad to see this being made with whole wheat pasta. I would maybe even use gluten free pasta also.

    Reply

  25. 25
    Posted On February 4, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Hooooly baby love. I want this.

    Reply

  26. 26
    Posted On February 4, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    I actually prefer whole wheat pasta or quinoa. The combination of cheeses sounds mouthwatering. My daughter will love this.

    Reply

  27. 27
    Karen Lynch
    Posted On February 5, 2014 at 12:07 am

    I follow both on Twitter and tweeted.

    Reply

  28. 28
    Posted On February 9, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Oh, this has got my name all over it!! What a delicious mac&cheese recipe :) I love it!!!

    Reply

  29. 29
    Megarrette
    Posted On February 15, 2014 at 12:15 am

    Thanks for a great recipe! I used a Dutch Beemster for my Gouda, and it was quite fantastic.  I also subbed gluten free noodles and it was perfect.  

    Reply

  30. 30
    Posted On February 15, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Mmm, I want to dive into that bowl…

    Reply

  31. 31
    Posted On April 8, 2014 at 10:34 am

    This sounds so gooood! With three boys, we have mac and cheese quite often and this may be the perfect way to make it more enjoyable for hubby & I. Split it up, half regular half your recipe and we’re all happy. I love garlic. And I love spicy. Perfect :) In fact, included this in a garlic round-up of sorts on a post I did on BF (If this is not OK, please please just let me know)
    http://www.buzzfeed.com/veronica0811/24-indulgent-reasons-to-celebrate-national-garlic-nvja

    :) Veronica

    Reply

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