This One-Pot Spinach And Feta Mac And Cheese Is Seriously Delicious

Sometimes you just want a warm, comforting bowl of homemade macaroni and cheese — the kind with a super-rich, velvety sauce that you can't really get out of a box. You might also find yourself wanting green vegetables with that decadent bowl of pasta, for health! What if we told you that you could have both of those things in a one-pot dinner that comes together in less than half an hour and leaves you with almost no dishes

If you really wanted to be lazy, you could eat this one-pot spinach and feta mac and cheese directly out of the pot. That's the whole point of this recipe, which is like a pair of high-end sweatpants in food form. There's a little something sophisticated about it from the addition of spinach and feta, but at its core, this is pure comfort food. We think this recipe pairs best with a cozy night in and a lounge on the couch. Learn how to make this ultimate comforting one-pot spinach and feta mac and cheese below. 

Gather the ingredients to make one-pot spinach and feta mac and cheese

The ingredients list for this one-pot spinach and feta mac and cheese is fairly straightforward. You'll want to start, of course, with your favorite pasta. You can use regular elbow macaroni, but we love the added texture of a slightly longer, twistier pasta like gemelli or cavatappi. Theoretically, though, you could make this with any dried pasta even spaghetti — you'll just need to adjust the cook time accordingly.

To make the cheese sauce that forms the base of this recipe, we recommend using Swiss cheese (but white cheddar would also work), milk, and either water or vegetable stock. You'll also need olive oil, spinach (either fresh or frozen will work out just fine), and of course, feta cheese. A dash of freshly ground black pepper gives the dish a nice little kick of spice without making it spicy. Most of these ingredients are things that you probably already have in your pantry, which makes this a great option for a weeknight dinner.

What kind of cheese should you use for your one-pot spinach and feta mac and cheese?

To make this one-pot spinach and feta mac and cheese, we recommend using a blend of both Swiss and feta cheeses. The sharp, mild flavor of the Swiss makes a really nice base for a creamy sauce that complements the flavors of both the spinach and the feta without overwhelming either of them. If you can't find Swiss (or just don't love it), a nice sharp white cheddar is a great option as well, but avoid using a yellow cheddar or a Velveeta-style processed cheese, as those will not pair as well with the over flavors in the dish.

For the feta, use any good-quality, crumbly feta you can find. It's always better to buy in a block rather than a tub of pre-made crumbles, and the same goes for the Swiss or cheddar cheese as well. However, if you really need to shave off a few extra minutes from your prep time (or if you just hate grating cheese), a bag of the pre-shredded stuff will also work.

What kind of pasta is best for this one-pot spinach and feta mac and cheese?

This dish is called one-pot spinach and feta mac and cheese, so if you want to use plain old elbow macaroni, you should do it! However, we do think that some longer pastas with more of a spiral shape (we used gemelli for this recipe) take to the sauce a little bit better. When cooked to the perfect al dente texture, these slightly larger pasta shapes also have a really pleasant bite to them that's a great contrast to this ultra-smooth sauce. 

You can use pretty much any dried pasta here, including spaghetti, although thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta will not work as well, as they are more likely to fall apart in the sauce. You could also use fresh pasta if you like to make your own — a shape like orecchiette or cavatappi would be an excellent choice for this dish. 

Be sure to season the spinach while it cooks for your one-pot spinach and feta mac and cheese

The first step in making this one-pot spinach and feta mac and cheese is actually to cook the spinach. Heat a good amount of olive oil in your pot, and then add the spinach by the handful, working in batches if you're using fresh spinach. A whole bag of fresh spinach might seem like it's a lot of green vegetables for a mac and cheese dish, but remember that spinach cooks down a lot.

If you're using frozen spinach, you can more or less add the entire package at once because it's technically already been cooked. Be sure to season the spinach well with salt and black pepper before you move onto the next step. How you season the spinach while it cooks down will impact the overall flavor of your dish, so don't be afraid to be a little bit aggressive with your seasonings here!

To amp up the flavor, add a little bit of stock to your one-pot spinach and feta mac and cheese

Since this is a one-pot dish, you won't be cooking the pasta for your one-pot spinach and feta mac and cheese in boiling water, draining it, and then adding it to the sauce after it's already cooked. Instead, you're actually going to cook the pasta in the sauce itself. To do this, you'll want to use a mixture that's made up of half milk and half either water or stock. Water will work fine if you don't have any stock on hand, but the overall flavor of your one-pot spinach and feta mac and cheese will be a lot milder overall.

If you want to amp things up a little bit, use some stock in place of water. Homemade stock of any variety is always best, and vegetable or poultry-based stocks pair best with this dish. If you don't have homemade stock, a pre-made version will also work. Just don't try to use all milk for this step, as the final result will most likely turn out too rich for you to really enjoy it.

Turn off the heat before you add the cheese to your one-pot spinach and feta mac and cheese

After you've cooked your pasta in the base of the sauce, the next step is to start putting the cheese into this one-pot spinach and feta mac and cheese. However, it's important to note that you don't want to do this while you pot is still on the heat.

First, make sure your pasta really is cooked the way you like it. The best way to do this is to just taste a piece. If you're happy with it, turn off the heat, then start adding the shredded Swiss or cheddar cheese. You'll want to add it in batches, mixing as you go. Once you have added all of the cheese to the pot, keep stirring until your sauce is super velvety and smooth. At this point, it's not a bad idea to taste it again and adjust the seasonings as you see fit. 

Save the feta for your one-pot spinach and feta mac and cheese for last

Feta is not a particular melty cheese, which is why we like to pair it with another cheese to form the creamy sauce for this one-pot spinach and feta mac and cheese. The feta acts a little bit more like a garnish or mix-in for this recipe. If you want to go for a full cheese overload, mix a little bit of the feta into the sauce right at the very end, and then top off each bowl with another handful of crumbled feta.

If you want to take a slightly more measured approach, just use the feta crumbles as a topping right before serving. We recommend adding a sprinkling of freshly cracked black pepper to the top of each bowl as well, which will help to offset the extreme creaminess of this dish. A little bit of grated lemon zest, Calabrian chili oil, or chopped parsley would also make good garnishes.

This One-Pot Spinach And Feta Mac And Cheese Is Seriously Delicious
4 from 4 ratings
There's a little something sophisticated about this one-pot spinach and feta mac and cheese, but at its core, this is pure comfort food.
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
15
minutes
Servings
4
servings
one-pot spinach and feta mac and cheese
Total time: 25 minutes
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup olive oil 
  • 10 ounces spinach, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup water or stock, ideally vegetable or poultry stock 
  • ½ box gemelli, macaroni, or other short pasta shape
  • 8 ounces baby Swiss or white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Directions
  1. In a medium-sized pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat, then add spinach. If you're using frozen spinach, add the whole package at once. If you're using fresh spinach, work in batches, adding more as the spinach cooks down. Season well with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the milk and the stock to the pan with the spinach and stir to combine.
  3. Add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often. Taste one piece of pasta to see if it is done to your liking before moving onto the next step. If it's too firm, cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and add the shredded cheese in batches. Stir each addition until melted into the sauce. Once all the cheese has been added, taste another piece of pasta and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  5. At this point, you can add half the feta to the pot and stir to combine. Note that the feta won't fully melt into the sauce.
  6. Portion into bowls and top with the remaining feta and a dash of black pepper.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 707
Total Fat 42.0 g
Saturated Fat 18.5 g
Trans Fat 0.7 g
Cholesterol 89.2 mg
Total Carbohydrates 53.4 g
Dietary Fiber 4.5 g
Total Sugars 6.2 g
Sodium 722.6 mg
Protein 29.8 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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