Mac & Cheese with Dandelion Greens

Mac & Cheese with Dandelion Greens

A little butter and cheese bring the best out of bitter dandelion greens.  Nestled into a comforting dish of baked pasta, this is an easy recipe for potlucks and gatherings. 

Ingredients

  • 1 lb elbow pasta, or other shape as you like
  • Salt, as needed
  • 2½ cups whole milk or cream
  • 2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • 1 large bunch dandelion greens (chard or spinach also work well)
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups cup grated Gruyère or Colby
  • 1 cup grated cheddar 
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.  Butter a 9x13" baking dish. 
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 7-10 minutes. Strain the pasta and rinse briefly under cool water.  Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
  3. As the pasta cooks, prepare the filling: set a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the milk, scallions, pepper, ½ tsp salt, and the paprika. Heat just to simmering, but don't allow to boil. 
  4. Add the greens to the milk and blanch until nicely wilted, 2-3 minutes. Using tongs, carefully remove the greens from the milk and transfer to a bowl.  When greens are cool enough to handle, coarsely chop them. 
Set aside. 
  5. Strain the remaining milk to remove the remaining scallions and transfer to a bowl.
  6. Return the saucepan to the stovetop and warm over medium heat.  Add the butter and cook over medium until fully melted.  Whisk in the flour.  Whisking constantly, slowly add the strained milk.  The mixture should begin to thicken.  Once all the milk has been added, cook for 4 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the Gruyère, cheddar, and half the Parmesan; stir until smooth.
  7. Fold the cheese mixture and chopped greens in with the cooked pasta, making sure greens are evenly distributed. Top with remaining Parmesan, and several twists black pepper.
  8. Transfer to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and edges on the top is golden brown. Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.
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