The Ingredient Additions For A Creamier Spin On Boxed Mac And Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is the comfort dinner gift that keeps on giving. Easy to make and always delicious, its neutral cheesy base allows for plenty of flavorful twists, like meaty barbecue pork or buffalo and bleu cheese. Even if you begin with a basic box of mac and cheese, you have plenty of options to elevate the dish. One excellent way to do this? Combine it with one of your favorite snacks, spinach and artichoke dip

These work as naturally complementary flavors, with the tangy and earthy notes of the dip cutting through the richness of the cheesy pasta. Plus, it's a nice way to sneak some extra veggies into this dish, making the most of fresh spinach and jarred or canned artichoke hearts in one fell swoop. 

While it may sound overly decadent, don't panic. The creamy mac and cheese sauce already used in your box mix fills in the gap for the sour cream and cream cheese often used in a spinach and artichoke dip recipe. So how do you go about giving your box of pasta a proper spinach dip spin?  

Add spinach and artichoke dip for a decadent twist

To begin, pick a boxed mac and cheese box that'll best complement the spinach and artichoke flavor combo. White cheddar mac & cheese, like Annie's, is a good place to start, although a three and four cheese option, which contains cheeses like gouda, parmesan, and other white cheeses also works well. Think of what will complement mozzarella, as you'll also be using that later. 

Next, you'll make the mac and cheese according to the instructions on the box and then prepare the spinach and artichoke portion separately. Begin by sautéing a clove of garlic and some olive oil in a pan until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add in a cup of fresh spinach and cook until wilted and liquid is released. Finally, pour in a cup of chopped artichoke hearts canned in either water or marinade. If packed in oil, be sure to drain the artichokes, otherwise your mac and cheese too greasy, which can separate the ingredients and disrupt the overall texture. 

Once everything is heated through, stir your spinach mix into your waiting mac and cheese, adding in ½ a cup of shredded mozzarella cheese. The result is a fast but fantastic dinner that doubles down on comfort.