My husband thinks that "bacon makes anything better." I tend to agree, although the current bacon cupcakes trend really confuses me:) I draw the line with bacon and pastries! This recipe takes a classic comfort food and makes it special with the addition of mushrooms, spinach and of course, bacon! If you don't want to get fussy with Fontina and white cheddar cheeses, feel free to substitute whatever cheese you have on hand. Parmesan, Gouda or even Monterey Jack cheeses are also good in Macaroni & Cheese if you can't find Fontina. Recipe adapted from Annie's Eats.
12 oz. pasta shapes (I used orchiette)
8 oz. baby portabella mushrooms, sliced (white mushrooms would also be fine)1 Tb. oil
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ cup flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
2½ cups milk (low fat or whole milk)
¼ tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
4 oz. (1 cup, grated) Fontina cheese
4 oz. (1 cup, grated) white cheddar cheese
5-6 slices pre-cooked bacon, chopped
3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Once boiling, cook the pasta according to package directions until just shy of al dente. Drain well and set aside.
Meanwhile, add the oil and mushrooms to a sauté pan . Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the heat.
To make the cheese sauce, melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat until completely melted. Whisk in the flour and garlic and cook, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until it begins to bubble and thicken. Whisk in the salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the Fontina and white cheddar until completely melted and smooth. (If necessary, you can return the pan to low heat to melt the cheeses.) Return the drained pasta to the pot. Mix in the chopped bacon and mushrooms, the cheese sauce and the chopped spinach. Stir everything together gently until well combined. Spread the mixture into a lightly greased 2-quart casserole dish. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top is light golden and the cheese is bubbling. Serve warm and top with reserved cooked bacon pieces, if desired. Serves 7-8.