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Mac and Cheese Florentine

This yummy comfort-food casserole is so rich and flavorful, it’s hard to believe it’s good for you. The creamy sauce is made with puréed white beans and cashews, resulting in loads of protein and flavor without a speck of dairy. The addition of spinach makes it an easy one-dish meal that is especially suited to lazy summer suppers when you might enjoy a comforting casserole but don’t want to turn on the oven.

Serves4

Cooking Time3 min

Cooking Time - Text180

Cooking Methodslow cooking

CostModerate

Total Timeunder 4 hours

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationdiabetic, egg-free, halal, healthy, high fiber, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, vegan, vegetarian

Equipmentcrock pot

Mealdinner

Moodblue

Taste and Texturecreamy, nutty, savory

Type of Dishcasserole

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • One 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, cooked according to package instructions and well drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ cup unsalted raw cashews
  • 1¾ cups water
  • 1½ cups slow-cooked or one 15.5-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon white miso paste (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Salt
  • ½ cup dry bread crumbs

Instructions

  1. Cook the macaroni in a pot of salted boiling water until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and place in a large bowl. Add the spinach and toss to combine. Set aside.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat, add the onion, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

  3. Grind the cashews to a powder in a blender or food processor. Add 1 cup of the water and blend until smooth. Add the onion, beans, miso paste, if using, the remaining ¾ cup water, the lemon juice, mustard, cayenne, and nutmeg and season with salt. (The amount of salt you need depends on whether or not you use the miso paste, which tends to be salty.) Blend until smooth, then taste to adjust the seasonings. Pour the sauce over the macaroni and spinach and mix well.

  4. Transfer the mixture to a lightly oiled 4-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on Low for 3 hours.

  5. Close to serving time, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs, stirring to coat them with the oil. Cook, stirring, until lightly toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. When ready to serve, sprinkle the toasted crumbs on top of the casserole.

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I haven't made this and can't comment on how it tastes--but what took me aback was the lack of cheese in the mac and cheese recipe. I don't object to a recipe without cheese (or do I?), but don't CALL it mac and cheese in that case!

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