Casual chain restaurants may be something of a guilty pleasure for some, but it’s hard to deny the appeal of dragging a crispy tortilla chip through a big, bubbling crock of screaming-hot spinach and artichoke dip. But as delicious as it may be, it’s not exactly the foundation for a well-rounded diet. We’ve been searching for a way to bring those flavors home and translate them into a complete, comforting meal that incorporates the cancer-fighting superfood potential of this classic flavor pairing.
Though it’s usually hard to tell through all of that simmering cream and cheese, traditional spinach and artichoke dip actually combines a few superfoods prized for their health benefits. Spinach is packed with antioxidants, and is high in vitamin C and beta carotene, which may help protect against certain kinds of cancer
. One cup of fresh spinach leaves also provides almost double the recommended daily allowance of vitamin K, which plays an important role in cardiovascular and bone health
. Fresh, seasonal artichokes are also antioxidant powerhouses
, and very high in dietary fiber; in fact, one artichoke packs a whopping 7-10 grams of fiber.
Spinach Artichoke Mac & Cheese
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 4 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella
- 3 ounces shredded Swiss cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan (divided)
- One 6-ounce bag fresh baby spinach
- One 8-ounce jar artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped, or cooked hearts from 6 fresh artichokes, roughly chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Position oven rack in the center of oven, and preheat broiler on high. Cook pasta according to package directions, reserve ¾ cup of the starchy pasta water, then drain pasta and set aside.
In the same pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until soft, about 2 minutes more. Whisk in flour, stirring constantly until flour begins to brown, about 2 minutes more. Whisk in heavy cream and reserved pasta water, stirring until thick, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add sour cream, mozzarella and Swiss cheese, along with 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan.
Stir until cheese has melted and mixture is smooth and uniform, then fold in spinach and artichoke hearts. Add reserved pasta, plus salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer mixture to an oven-safe 2-quart baking dish, and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Broil until golden brown and bubbly, about 2-3 minutes.