Rich and creamy Mac and Cheese with Kale and Gruyere is the ultimate indulgent comfort food.
The last few weeks have been full and hectic in a wonderful sort of way. My son who lives in California came to visit for a week and celebrate his birthday with us. Before that, my husband and I traveled to Florida to see our daughter, and on Saturday, I returned home from a few days spent with my husband in Denver. Crazy busy but I seem to operate better that way. Give me organized chaos and I’m a happy woman. Sounds unusual I know, but I work better when I know I need to meet deadlines, it makes me more focused.
While our son was home, I made one of his favorite meals which included this cheesy and very creamy Macaroni and Cheese with Kale and Gruyere. With all the craziness, this is my first opportunity to tell you about it.
Believe me, it’s much easier to cook a recipe, take pictures and write about it soon after we enjoy it than it is to hang on to a recipe and try to remember all the wonderful things we loved about it. In reality though, I’m actually not having that problem with this particular Mac and Cheese dish. You’ll have to trust me when I tell you it was pretty memorable. I mean honestly, it’s a magnificent Mac and Cheese…
This Macaroni and Cheese recipe is a far cry from the Mac and Cheese I remember growing up. Pasta, flour, milk, cheese, and butter certainly will give you Macaroni and Cheese but if you’re looking for a grown-up version of mac and cheese, this one’s for you.
Yes, you’ll still find zesty cheddar cheese mixed in with the noodles, but you’ll also find creamy Gruyere and Parmesan cheese along with Crème Fraîche to make it extra luscious.
So what exactly is crème fraîche? The name translates literally as, “fresh cream”. I find the taste of crème fraîche to be less tangy than sour cream. It generally has a higher fat content than sour cream, so it’s flavor is much richer and the texture creamier. That’s why I love to use it in this Mac and Cheese recipe.
I use Orecchiette pasta because of it’s pretty shape. The pasta resembles little ears and it is also referred to as “a bishop’s cap” because of it’s shape. Feel free to use any pasta you love. I think small elbow macaroni or small pasta shells are also good choices.
I added in chopped kale that I sauteed in olive oil and garlic. Garlic and olive oil with just about anything helps makes a dish wonderful, don’t you think? The kale adds a nice, pretty color and offers loads of health benefits. The flavor of the kale is so subtle, you probably won’t even recognize it. If kale isn’t your thing, you could easily substitute chopped spinach or leave it out altogether.
The topping is a simple blend of Italian bread crumbs, Parmesan, Gruyere, salt and pepper mixed with a little melted butter and sprinkled over the top. As the Mac and Cheese bakes in the oven, the cheeses melt further and the flavors really come together.
This Macaroni and Cheese with Kale and Gruyere is comfort food at it’s finest. It’s creamy, rich and utterly magnificent. I know you’ll love it as much as we did.
Mac and Cheese With Kale And Gruyere
- FOR THE KALE
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 4 cups chopped kale
- FOR THE MAC AND CHEESE
- 1 pound orecchiette
- 1/2 cup butter 1 stick
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- 8 ounces Cheddar cheese grated
- 6 ounces Gruyere cheese grated
- 6 ounces Parmesan cheese grated
- 8 ounces creme fraiche
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- FOR THE TOPPING
- 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
- 4 tablespoons butter melted, 1 stick
- 1/4 cup grated Cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese
- 1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan on medium-high heat. Add 2 cloves of the minced garlic and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the chopped kale and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.
- Remove pan from the heat, cover and set aside.
- Cook the orecchiette in a pot of boiling salted water until just tender; drain and set aside.
- In a pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook until golden. Add 2 of the minced garlic cloves and the flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
- Add cream and milk, whisking to remove lumps. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and add cheeses and creme fraiche; let melt.
- Stir in ground mustard, salt, nutmeg and pepper.
- Add the cooked pasta to the sauce along with the kale and mix well.
- Pour into a greased baking dish.
- Mix the bread crumbs and melted butter together. Stir in the reserved cheeses and sprinkle over pasta.
- Bake for 25 minutes until cheeses melt.
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