When the cold weather strikes, macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort dish. This version takes advantage of the best winter greens the season has to offer. Any variety of nutrient-packed greens will work, such as chard, collards, rapini or kale. So go ahead and indulge in this cheesy, creamy pasta for dinner, while sneaking in a healthy serving of vegetables, too!

Winter Greens Mac & Cheese

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes
Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

1 lb macaroni noodles, cooked to al dente
2 Tbsp + 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
6 oz chopped winter greens, stems removed
Salt & cracked black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp whole-grain mustard
3 cups whole milk
1 bay leaf
1 large egg, whisked
2 cups grated extra-old white cheddar, plus more for topping
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese, plus more for topping
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs

Directions: 

1. In a large pot over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic and onion. Cook until the onion begins to turn translucent, about 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the greens, seasoning generously with salt and pepper. Continue cooking until the greens begin to wilt and cook down, about 5 minutes. Transfer the greens to a bowl and set-aside until ready to use.

3. Preheat oven to 350°. In the same pot over medium heat, melt together the butter and flour. Whisking constantly, cook until a smooth roux forms, about 5 minutes.

4. Whisk in the mustard, followed by the milk and bay leaf. Simmer for 10 minutes, until mixture begins to thicken. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Discard bay leaf, temper in the egg and remove pot from heat. Let cool slightly before stirring in the cheeses.

6. Add the macaroni noodles and mix until evenly coated. If the pot is not oven safe, transfer mixture to a 9 by 12 baking dish.

7. In a small mixing bowl, toss together the remaining olive oil, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper.

8. Top macaroni with additional cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake for 30 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and golden brown. Serve immediately.

Get in your cozies and enjoy more comforting recipes with a good-for-you twist, from Georgian cheese bread with kale to spaghetti puttanesca (starring cauliflower) to a decadent butternut squash tartiflette.