Monday, January 4, 2010

Crab, Spinach & Artichoke Mac & Cheese

I was amazed at all the comments and emails that flooded in because of my last post! I have such awesome readers/subscribers!

Incredibly, a string of more bad things happened after I wrote that post! Can you believe it? When it rains, it pours. It was a rough holiday season for us, so your support really meant a lot. Thanks so much, everyone!

You asked for it, so here it is: my commitment to posting more savory recipes! But you'll have to live with the consequences- the fact that savory dishes are, more often than not, dull/bad/ugly photo subjects. Behold example #1: The Mac & Cheese. Entirely un-photogenic, but incredibly delicious!

This dish is famous from Salty's on Alki, a fantastic restaurant in Seattle. If you're ever visiting the area, you must make it a point to dine there! It's one of the most amazing seafood houses in Seattle.

It was recently brought to my attention by my fellow Foodie friend, Bryn, that they post all of their amazing recipes online! Can you believe it? It's simply incredible, considering all the deliciousness that's offered on their menu! I urge all of you to take a look at their recipe list. There's something fantastic to suit everyone's tastebuds! (Bryn was the genius that introduced me to Tom Douglas' famous Triple Coconut Cream Pie, if you'll remember.)

This isn't your normal run-of-the-mill mac & cheese! It's got an amazing collection of cheeses that make it super creamy, while the crab, artichoke, and spinach give it a fantastic flavor. And to top it all off: a crispy bread crumb and parmesan-herbed crust! This is not the kind of mac & cheese you used to eat as a kid. It's all grown-up and super gourmet. It's definitely a dinner party worthy dish!

(1) The Macaroni

Start by preparing the macaroni: boil and drain.

I like to add a tablespoon of olive oil to the boiling water. This helps to separate the macaroni when you drain it. It makes it so that they don't stick together. Just do it. You'll thank me later for it. =)

Set the macaroni aside for now.

(2) Other Preparations

Create the crunchy topping by mixing bread crumbs, parmesan, garlic powder, and parsley. I don't particularly like parsley, so I replaced it with dried chives, which ended up being quite delicious!

I added this part to the recipe. The original recipe doesn't call for spinach and artichoke. But they're two of my favorite veggies, so I added them in. It definitely gave it a huge flavor boost. YUM!

Drain and chop up a 14 oz can of artichoke hearts. Also thaw and drain a 10 oz package of frozen spinach. Make sure to squeeze all the excess water out. I do this by up rolling up the spinach into small bundles, which it makes ten times easier to get all the water out.

Grate some fresh Gruyere and white cheddar. Yum! I added way more than what the recipe called for. hehe. You can never go wrong with having too much cheese.

You'll also need 3/4 lb crab. You know it's going to be good when there's crab involved.

(3) The Cheese Sauce

Start by heating up heavy cream in a sauce pan.

Add in the cream cheese and stir until the mixture is creamy and smooth. I had a hard time doing this because my cream cheese wasn't quite at room temperature. I would suggest cutting it up into small cubes and making sure that it's super soft before using it. This will make your life so much easier.

At this step, the recipe calls for cream cheese and chevre cheese. Chevre is a type of goat cheese. You can find it at Whole Foods or in the specialty cheese section of your local grocery store. If you don't like goat cheese, substitute it for cream cheese. It produces the same creamy effect. Chevre is really mild...and with all the other cheeses and flavors you're adding to the dish, you won't be able to taste it at all. It's mainly there for texture (the creaminess).

I used only cream cheese and it turned out fantastic. So either way works.

Once your heavy cream & cream cheese mixture is smooth, add in the spinach & artichoke.

Sprinkle 1 tsp of salt and fold until well combined. I found that I wanted the dish to have a tad bit more salt than what was called for. So I modified the recipe to say "plus more to taste." You might want to taste the cream sauce to make sure it's to your liking.

(4) Putting it all Together

Add the drained pasta to the spinach & artichoke cream sauce.

Fold in the pasta until everything is well coated. At this point, if the mixture seems to be too thick, like all of the pasta isn't getting coated easily, pour in a few small splashes of heavy cream to thin it out a bit.

Next, add in the grated Gruyere and white cheddar mixture. Fold the cheese in until everything is melted and has become well incorporated.

Lastly, fold in the crab until well incorporated.

Pour the mac & cheese into a 13x9 pan and level it out with a spatula so that the surface is "flat."

Pour your bread crumb mixture on top, making sure to spread it into an even layer. This is super important, because if some areas are thicker than others, you'll get a "raw" bread crumb patch here and there where it didn't brown.

Put it under the broiler really quickly. Don't make the mistake of walking away like I did! Mine burned a little, as you can see! hehe. It really does brown super quickly, like in 2-5 minutes, depending on how high your pan is sitting. I would recommend putting the rack slightly lower than where you'd usually have it at for broiling, and then leaving it in a bit longer. This will give the cheese a chance to melt a bit, before everything starts to brown. Then you'll get a super nice crust on top!

Serve right away, while it's warm and the crust is still crispy! YUM!

There's really nothing to say about this dish except that it's incredible.

Mac & cheese usually isn't something I'd order at a restaurant... or make at home, for that matter. In fact, prior to trying it at Salty's, I think the last time I had it was in 8th grade, in the school cafeteria! It generally has a bad reputation of being a "kid's dish." But trust me, you won't think so after you've tried this version of it! It's anything but ordinary! It is now one of my favorites.

You must give this recipe a try! I'm sure you'll love it as much as we did.

Click HERE for the recipe!


  1. I just read your last post. I am sorry.

    I don't if it will cheer you up, but I used your hazelnut crust recipe from your blueberry cheesecake post and it was delicious. I just posted a post about it. Thanks!

  2. You say the pic is not photogenic, but it didnt stop me from trying to lick my computer screen... looks delicious!

  3. Ohhh my, that looks so insanely delish! My fam won't eat it, so I can have the whole dish to myself! Btw, found you via Tastespotting. Now I come here first before there!

  4. Oh Judy. Savory-GOOD! I am SO glad you are vertical again and in the kitchen! How strange... how VERY strange. This past weekend I made a Crab and Artichoke appetizer dip- a recipe from our local renowned restaurant. Yours looks a BIT healthier though! I am going to make this - cuz I love mac and cheese (and now, crab and artichoke crazy)! Here's mine if you get the inkling for more....!

  5. That looks AMAZING! That's like all my favorite things combined into one dish! Can't wait to try it. Ohhh, and so sorry to hear about your fridge!! :(

  6. That looks fantastic! Can you come up with a low cal/low fat version :-P Just kidding! Hope the fridge things is all better! It was good to see you guys over the holiday!

  7. So glad you're feeling better. Recipe looks amazing and I'm writing down the ingredients to my shopping list right now.

    Happy New Year to you, Judy, and your DH and family. Judy - Houston, Texas

  8. OMG that looks delicious. Crab is so underrated.

    Glad to see you're back on your feet and blogging. :)

  9. I do a crab, spinach and artichoke dip. A mac and cheese version sounds so good!

  10. YUM. That's all I have to say :)


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