They go together like peanut butter and jelly (or peanut butter and chocolate, mmm) – don’t you love it when life hands you a wonderful mash-up opportunity? I do!
Enter my newest concoction – Artichoke Dip Mac & Cheese! I love the unstoppable creaminess of artichoke dip, and when I considered combining it with mac and cheese I practically salivated all the way to the pantry to check for ingredients. Yes, it is unbelievable sinful – but I lightened it up where I could without sacrificing flavor. Without further ado, here’s what I came up with!
To start, gather all your ingredients.
And don’t forget, like me, to include the seasoned salt and seasoned pepper (oops!)…
Back to the cooking! Cook your pasta (I chose orecchiette for this recipe) according to package directions, then drain and set aside. While the pasta is cooking, drain and chop the artichoke hearts into bite-size pieces.
Also, slice your scallions and mince your garlic, if you haven’t already. Reserve about two tablespoons of the green scallion tops for your topping.
In a small bowl, combine the Panko bread crumbs, two tablespoons of green scallion tops, and two tablespoons of shredded Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and Pam a large 13×9 Pyrex baking dish.
Time to get serious. In the same large pot in which you cooked the orecchiette, whisk together the milk, Neufchatel cheese and mayonnaise. Cook over low heat until everything is melted and combined, about three minutes. Add cheeses and stir until melted. Add in the artichoke hearts, garlic and scallions and stir to combine. Finally, add the horseradish, hot sauce, cayenne pepper and seasoned salt and pepper. Stir, taste, adjust for seasoning, then add the cooked pasta and give everything a good stir.
Turn the contents of the pot out into the Pammed baking dish, make sure the mac and cheese is settled in, then sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until the top is nice and bubbly. Remove from the oven and allow the mac and cheese to rest for five minutes (yes, this step is important).
So how was it? It was a downright party in my mouth, I tell you! Oh wow. Not to toot my own horn (well, maybe) but…NAILED IT.
Glorious creaminess that you expect from artichoke dip, along with the subtle tang from the horseradish made for an amazing mac and cheese. I wanted to dive in and swim in it (and I wouldn’t tell you if I did). Four and a half elbows up.
Here’s my recipe.
- 16 ounces Orecchiette
- 19½ ounces marinated artichoke hearts (three 6.5 ounce jars)
- 8 ounces Neufchatel cheese
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1½ cups medium cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2 cups fat-free milk
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup Panko bread crumbs
- 5 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 2 teaspoons creamed horseradish
- 2 teaspoons Crystal hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Seasoned salt & seasoned pepper, to taste
- Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.
- While pasta is cooking, drain and chop the artichoke hearts. Slice scallions and mince garlic. Reserve about two tablespoons green scallion tops.
- In a small bowl, combine Panko bread crumbs, two tablespoons green scallion tops and two tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and Pam a large 13x9 Pyrex baking dish.
- In the same large pot in which you cooked the orecchiette, whisk together milk, Neufchatel cheese and mayonnaise. Cook over low heat until everything is melted and combined, about three minutes. Add cheeses and stir until melted. Add in the artichoke hearts, garlic and scallions and stir to combine. Add horseradish, hot sauce, cayenne pepper and seasoned salt and pepper. Stir, taste, adjust for seasoning, then add cooked pasta and stir.
- Turn mac and cheese out into Pammed baking dish then sprinkle bread crumb mixture over the top.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow mac and cheese to rest for five minutes.
- Serve and scarf down immediately!
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