The No-Frills Way To Add Fresh Greens To Macaroni And Cheese

Customization is practically macaroni and cheese's middle name. Whether you like to add savory bacon, use a combination of sweet and salty cheeses to create your sauce, or choose to change up your mac and cheese with canned ingredients like tomato soup, there are many iterations of this classic dish. However, as you may have noticed, not all of them provide a dose of fresh veggies. But there's a no-frills way to add greens to your mac and cheese that you may want to try.

Including greens is a great way to sneak some nutrient-rich ingredients into a dish the kids love while simultaneously putting an adult twist on it with minimal work. Some veggies like onions and broccoli ought to be cooked before they go into your pot of creamy, cheesy pasta, but leafy power greens can and should be added raw. Because of their delicate nature, greens like spinach and arugula tend to wilt when added to the warm cheese sauce.

Factors to consider when wilting leafy greens

Wilting greens is a time-saving culinary technique that allows fragile veggies to lose their shape without losing their taste. When it comes to some greens, like spinach, wilting them actually enhances their flavor. If you're mixing veggies, be aware that they don't all break down at the same speed. For instance, while spinach wilts rather quickly, kale needs a little time. Additionally, not every type of kale wilts the same way. The younger the greens, the quicker the process.

Another consideration is how the veggies interact with the other ingredients. If you add greens to your hot, cooked pasta, make certain you don't rinse your noodles because that would remove starch that actually helps your greens wilt more efficiently. You can also wilt herbs like basil and have the benefit of added fragrance. And if you like the way greens taste in your mac and cheese, you can try the same wilting approach with some of your cooked rice dishes, potatoes, and whole grains.