Kale Mac 'n Cheese

by Amanda Natividad, NatureBox Editor

I love kale just as much as the next person. It’s low in calorie and high in iron and fiber, and you can prepare it a number of ways: raw, sautéed or even in chip form. But you rarely see it utilized in comfort food. Here, I lightly sautéed and baked it into a mac ‘n cheese that uses almond milk rather than whole milk. The result? A slightly-nutty, lighter-on-your-tummy and oh-so-gooey dish. Try it out!

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Serves: 4-6

Cook time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 1 tablespoon and 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 10 ounces kale, leaves torn into 1” pieces (about 1 bunch)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
  • 2-3/4 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Set aside an 8 x 8 inch or 7 x 11 inch baking dish (1.5-quart or 2-quart baking dish).

2. Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a rolling boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente, about 4 minutes. Drain, add to the baking dish and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they start to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the kale and cook until slightly wilted and bright green, about 3 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, or to taste. Stir in the minced garlic, turn off heat and set aside.

4. In a medium saucepan (use the same one you used to cook the pasta!) over medium heat, mix the flour and remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Stir frequently until the smooth mixture is light tan and smells slightly nutty, about 3-4 minutes. Slowly whisk in the unsweetened almond milk and bring to a low simmer, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cheese, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Turn off heat.

5. Stir the kale-onion mixture into the macaroni. Pour the cheese sauce over the top. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

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Amanda really wants to help you cook delicious foods and sustain a healthier lifestyle. When she’s not goofing around on Twitter she’s probably noshing on the pile of NatureBox snacks at her desk.