In fact, it is so the opposite of healthy that I contemplated not posting it out of sheer embarrassment and shame. And also because I was hosting Easter dinner at my house. Thus, I had put away all photography stuffs, and the chaos occurring at my house was pretty much equivalent to that of a Wal-Mart in Myrtle Beach on a Saturday in the middle of summer (I don't visit Wal-Mart, at all, after experiencing one such Saturday).
But then I tasted it, and it was so freaking amazing I just had to share; it would be selfish not to, right? So I rushed outside at the 11th hour before joining the family for dinner and snapped a few quick pictures. Which is why the only pictures I had to choose from are nearly identical pictures of a tiny bowl of the mac and cheese. And a picture of bacon. Of course I took the time to take a random picture of the bacon while cooking because bacon is awesome. And delicious. And photogenic. And supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. You catch my drift?
My obsession with bacon has reached the level that my co-workers have caught on. In fact, one of my favorite co-workers emailed me this the other day.
She has me pegged. This truth comes into a very close second for my distrust for people without vices.
Back to the health talk (or lack there of in this case). There isn't anything balanced about this dish. I did use whole grain noodles and I added a bunch of spinach. But if we are being candid, that's about the same as ordering a Five Guys regular bacon cheeseburger (i.e the two patty one), topping it with lettuce and tomato and ordering a diet coke. I hate to be the Debbie Downer here, but healthy eating and these meals are mutually exclusive people.
Make it anyway. Just make it when you have 10 people joining your for dinner, or a church potluck, or supper club... a meal where there is little possibility for you to have leftovers to gorge yourself on for three days. Sadly, I speak from experience.
Spinach, Bacon and Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
1 box of Penne pasta (approximately 12 ounces)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
8 slices of bacon
10 ounces fresh spinach
2 shallots, halved and thinly sliced
1 bunch of basil, chiffonade
8 ounces of Fontina cheese, shredded
4 ounces of Smoked Gouda, shredded
4 ounces of Gruyere, shredded
4 ounces of Havarti, shredded
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup of Panko breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil to prevent sticking. Mix shredded cheeses in a bowl, reserving approximately 1 1/2 - 2 cups for topping. In a large skillet, fry bacon until browned and crispy (i.e. perfect), remove and set aside. Pour out all but about 1 tablespoon of grease (if you're smart, save the excess grease in a coffee cup and store in fridge for later cooking). Return skillet to medium heat. Add shallots and saute until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove shallots and set aside. Add spinach and saute for 3-5 minutes, stirring often. Drain spinach, and once cooled, squeeze out excess liquid. In a large bowl, mix eggs, milk, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and nutmeg. Add cooked shallots, sauteed spinach, crumbled bacon, basil, pasta and cheese (with the exception of that reserved for topping) to a large bowl and mix well. Pour pasta mixture into a greased a 9x12 casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese and Panko breadcrumbs. Bake for 35-45 minutes until macaroni and cheese sets.