Recipe: Kale & bacon Quinoa mac

In an effort to eat healthier and get in-shape for life, I have been experimenting with gluten-free products, like Quinoa pasta.

And I love it.

A lot.

So, I took a favorite recipe of mine, macaroni & cheese, and decided to add kale and use Quinoa elbow macaroni. I have made this recipe twice now and it's really delicious!

The kale gives it a crunchy texture, though still decadent and smooth from the home-made cheese sauce, while the bacon and bread crumb topping gives it a satisfying crunch. Sauteed baby spinach would also be delicious in this, I just happened to have washed and chopped kale from another recipe that I needed to use.

Recipe: Kale & bacon Quinoa mac

8oz Quinoa elbows
1 T olive oil
4 slices bacon
1/4 cup onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups kale, chopped as small as you like
2 T flour
2 cups fat-free milk (or whatever you have on hand)
1 T Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
1 1/2 cup Gruyere, shredded
1/2 cup Extra-sharp Cheddar, shredded
1 slice whole wheat bread, or any bread you like

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9x13 casserole dish with non-stock cooking spray.

Place slice of bread in a food processor and pulse until you have fresh breadcrumbs. Set aside.

Heat a griddle or non-stock fry pan over medium heat. Fry bacon 4-6 minutes per side until crisp, reserving 4 T of the bacon drippings. Chop bacon and set aside.

Boil Quinoa according to package directions for al dente, approximately 2-3 minutes before it's completely cooked. Drain in colander and toss with olive oil, setting aside.

Place pot you boiled pasta in back on stove over medium heat, adding 2 T of the reserved bacon drippings. Saute onion 3-4 minutes until becoming soft and translucent. Add garlic and kale and saute 8-10 minutes until kale starts to wilt and become soft. Remove onion, garlic, kale mixture and combine with pasta you set aside.

With the pot still over medium-high heat, add remaining 2 T of bacon drippings to the pot and add flour. Whisk until it's combined and becomes clumpy. Let cook 1 minute. Add in milk all at once but slowly to avoid hot splashing liquid and whisk until all clumps disappear. Wisk in mustard, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Let cook 4-5 minutes until mixture becomes slightly thick, whisking frequently. Turn off heat and add in cheeses, whisking until completely melted.

Taste the cheese sauce and adjust flavor by adding more salt and pepper as you like.

Add in Quinoa and kale mixture, stirring until well combined. Pour into casserole dish and top with chopped bacon and breadcrumbs. Bake 12-15 minutes until bubbly and golden brown. This recipe will serve 8.


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