A recipe for mac and cheese with greens that makes delicious use of flavorful, but often forgotten, radish and turnip greens. Jump to recipe.
I’m currently at work on a recipe with radishes front and center, which means at the farmers’ market, I got armfuls of radishes, all adorned with giant green tops. Not the bitter-tasting spotty yellow leaves that come along late in the season, but the vibrant, tender kind that taste like nettles and all things green. I just couldn’t bring myself to send this flavorful haul to the compost heap.
So, I made this recipe for mac and cheese with greens. First, I infused a pot of milk with sliced shallots, pepper, and nutmeg, and then used the flavorful milk to cook the greens in batches. The blanching milk does double duty in the roux (think of it as a dairy version of pot likker), and lends an earthy depth to the finished mac and cheese.
Though I’ve used a mix of radish and hakurei turnip greens here, feel free to sub whatever hardy leafy greens you have available. Kale, collard leaves, braising greens, chard, and arugula would all be great. Be sure to remove any woody stems and increase the blanching time as needed.
A recipe for mac and cheese with greens that makes delicious use of flavorful, but often forgotten, radish and turnip greens.
- 1 pound Conchiglie pasta or other large shell shape
- sea salt
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 2 shallots sliced thin
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
- 2 bunches radish or turnips greens or dark, leafy greens of your choice
- 4 tablespoons 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 8 ounces grated Gruyere or Appenzeller
- 4 ounces grated sharp cheddar
- 4 ounces grated Parmesan divided
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Boil a large pot of salted water. Add pasta and cook to al dente. Strain and place cooked pasta in a buttered 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Set aside.
Meanwhile, set a large saucepan over medium heat, add milk, shallots, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, and nutmeg. Mixture should be hot and steamy, but not bubbling at all – adjust heat as needed. Once mixture is hot, add the greens a few handfuls at a time and blanch until nicely wilted, 2 - 3 minutes. Remove with tongs, allowing milk to drip off greens first. Set green aside in a bowl. When all the greens have been cooked, set in strainer used for pasta, and strain milk to collect all the shallots and greens. Press all remaining liquid back into the milk mixture.
Pour warm milk into a bowl or measuring cup.
When greens are cool enough to handle, chop. Set aside. Set the same saucepan used for the milk over medium heat. Add the butter, and when melted, whisk in the flour. Stirring constantly, add warm milk a little at a time, allowing mixture to re-thicken as you go. Once all the milk has been added, cook roux 4 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and add all the Gruyere or Appenzeller, cheddar, and half the Parmesan; stir until smooth.
Fold cheese mixture and chopped greens in with the cooked pasta, making sure greens are evenly distributed. Top with remaining Parmesan, and several twists black pepper.
Bake mac and cheese 25 - 30 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and edges on the top are golden brown. Cool briefly, then serve.
To reheat, cook mac covered with foil for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. Uncover and cook 15 minutes longer.