feta mac1

Oh heavens, this dish is good. I’ll admit I had my reservations about making a mac and cheese with a full presence of feta. I like feta, I do, but wasn’t sure I would love a pasta dish with heavy feta presence. Again, like so many times in the past, I was proven wrong because this macaroni and cheese quite simply rocks.

A simple white sauce is whisked together and enhanced with sharp white cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese and feta cheese. Not to mention the fire roasted tomatoes and spinach. Despite the fact that it’s macaroni and cheese and is kind of screaming “heavy comfort food ahead!” it is quite the opposite. I found this dish, probably due in part to the dainty orzo, to be light and flavorful and perfect for a simple weeknight meal. And in all actuality, it reminded me more of a baked pasta dish (i.e. casserole) than a true macaroni and cheese dish.

It doesn’t take very long to whip up and I guess because I was eating mac and cheese loaded with tomatoes and spinach I kind of went into the lala-land of second-helpings-mean-seconds-of-veggies-too, right? In my defense, I did use a lowfat white cheddar cheese (which worked surprisingly well despite my bad past history with reduced fat cheeses – ick). This was a hands down hit with the whole family and we were all fighting for the leftovers a few nights later when it was purge-the-fridge-for-dinner night.

A quick P.S.: I have left the confines of my Northern Minnesota habitat and my family and I are currently a lot of miles west, near Yellowstone at a family reunion. So if it takes me a bit longer to respond to comments and questions, it’s probably because I’m watching geysers erupt and/or trying to get my five children to stop playing steamrollers in the tent.

feta mac2

What To ServeA side salad like this Broccoli Salad
Steamed or roasted vegetable or something like this Curried Cauliflower Popcorn
Saltines, Ritz, or crackers of choice

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Fire Roasted Mac and Cheese with Feta

Yield: Serves 6

Fire Roasted Mac and Cheese with Feta

I normally stay away from reduced fat cheese because of the taste/texture but ended up using a lowfat sharp white cheddar cheese (from Cabot) because it was all I could find and it worked really, really well. The texture might have been slightly different had I used a full fat cheese but we were none the wiser and it saved a few calories.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound orzo pasta
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoon flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 10 ounces shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 3/4 cup feta cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 14-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9X13-inch pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, cook the orzo pasta until al dente according to package directions. Drain (but don't rinse) and set aside.
  3. While the pasta is boiling, prepare the cheese mixture. In a 2- or 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour until smooth and let the mixture cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly (this helps get rid of the floury taste).
  4. Gradually stir in the milk, whisking constantly, and let it cook at a very gentle simmer for 4-5 minutes until it has thickened considerably.
  5. Off the heat, stir in the cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, one handful at a time, making sure each addition has melted before adding the next. Stir in 1/2 cup of the feta cheese (it may not melt all the way - that's ok).
  6. Stir in the oregano, salt and pepper. Add the undrained diced tomatoes and the spinach. Stir the mixture well to allow the spinach to wilt down a bit.
  7. Stir in the cooked orzo. Spread the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup feta cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and bubbly.
  8. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/fire-roasted-mac-and-cheese-with-feta/
Recipe Source: adapted from Janssen at Everyday Reading (love this girl!) by way of Eat Live Run

27 Responses to Fire Roasted Mac and Cheese with Feta

  1. This sounds awesome! Lovely recipe!

  2. Teresa R. says:

    My family loves Mac and cheese. I will be trying this recipe before the week is over!

  3. Kim in MD says:

    I love everything about this Mac and cheese-yum! Have fun at your family reunion, Mel!

  4. Love that you used feta in this. Yum!!

  5. Janssen says:

    Seriously, I am so flattered that you even read my blog. We just made your orzo and cream cheese recipe last night for dinner (for the dozenth or more time) and Bart said, “I think this is one of my very favorite dinners.” You are a rockstar in our house.

  6. Ohhh wow. Mel this looks amazing! I definitely think you made the right decision to go with the feta!

  7. Holly W says:

    Ooohh – we love homemade mac and cheese at our house. I have a few different recipes we like but this one is totally different. I can’t wait to try it! P.S. Have fun in Yellowstone with the littles. We did that last summer and had a great time.

  8. Valerie A. H. says:

    Good gravy! This looks so good…I’d like some right now for breakfast!

  9. Tahnycooks says:

    Feta in Mac & Cheese?!!!? Yes, please!!

  10. Oh la la. That looks good. I feel the same way about feta. I guess I’ll have to try to know if I like it.

  11. Marci says:

    Any idea if this could be a make ahead?

  12. Wow… this looks like a big fork full of comfort!

    And so glad our Light Cheddar worked well for you. I agree – with most reduced fat cheeses, it’s not worth the loss in taste you get. But ours is the exception to that rule, even if I am partial :)

  13. Laura says:

    I love the idea of feta with orzo for a twist on mac and cheese. Great idea!

  14. holy cow this looks/sounds amazing!!! So cheesy :) Also love that you used orzo…my fave!

  15. Emily Marie says:

    We’re going to Yellowstone in just two days, wouldn’t it be awesome to run into each other?! I’ll be the dorky girl waving wildly! ;)

    And this mac and cheese – oh. my. goodness. This looks like pure perfection. My goal to use up all the stuff in our fridge before leaving might have to take a backseat so I can make this immediately!

  16. Minnesota Red says:

    It looks delish but I see no fire roasted anything here?

  17. Allyson says:

    Minnesota Red – it calls for Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes. Mel, good luck on the trip! Hope it’s fun getting away!

  18. Minnesota Red says:

    Geez, thank you! I swear I read this posting over and over and kept missing it!

  19. jweed says:

    made it and loved it! delicious and creamy. thanks for posting!

  20. Cammee says:

    I die.

  21. Tyler H says:

    Mac and Cheese with orzo pasta……interesting twist. Now to start searching for orzo pasta in Japan. I’m a huge fan of sun-dried tomato and feta chicken pasta, so maybe sub fresh tomatoes for sun-dried. Either way, it sounds heavenly!!

  22. Stacie A. says:

    Made this for dinner tonight. It was quite yummy!! Definitely making it again. The kids even liked it!

  23. Joan says:

    Do you think this could be frozen?

  24. Mel says:

    Joan – I haven’t tried it but I’m not sure it would make the greatest freezer meal – you’d really have to experiment to find out. Good luck!

  25. Heidi says:

    This was delicious! I made a number of changes based on what I had on hand and thought I would share in case anyone wondered. I used mini penne, orange medium cheddar for the sharp white, mozzarella instead of the Monterrey jack. I used the same amount of feta called for. I also used a mixture if kale, baby kale, baby spinach and baby chard for the spinach. It was fabulous and all 3 of my children (ages 4-7) had seconds and asked me to make it again. (disclaimer: we eat greens nearly daily including raw in salads, so my kids are very used to them). Thanks for sharing, Mel.

  26. laurel says:

    Made this when I was pregnant in January as part of my freezer stash. It definitely worked for us as a make ahead. :-)

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