Cooking and Recipes: Smoked Gouda mac ‘n cheese with walnut, apple and endive side salad

Benjamin Kraft, Recipe Blogger

As the never-ending polar air freezes our hearts one walk to Tech at a time, warm food has never been more appreciated. With a quick trip to Whole Foods or Jewel-Osco and a few pots and pans, it’s easy to make a piping-hot dinner in your dorm or apartment to melt your “Frozen” heart. This week, I took over the kitchen in Allison Hall to make this healthy yet delightful and filling salad and pasta combination.

Though last week’s stuffed pepper recipe was tasty, the resulting dish was encapsulated in a wee green suit, all alone on its stark white plate. I thought this week I would combine two dishes to make sure no space on the plate was left unoccupied. What resulted was a meal that could stuff five to six college students for only $40 total.

I know what you’re thinking: Pasta and salad, even combined, hardly seems filling, much less tasty. Try this recipe, then email me about your eye-opening revelation. I have never been a health nut and honestly don’t particularly like salad or really anything green. But this dish surprised me. The pasta, even filled with spinach, just tasted like scrumptious molten cheese and cream, even though the whole dish only uses two cups of fat free milk and a tablespoon of butter. The salad, decked out with walnuts, apple slices, mild goat cheese and a sweet, tart dressing was surprisingly enjoyable to eat as well — not just another bowl of iceberg lettuce.

As a final note, I have a story: The recipes I used said they would only feed four people, but by combining the dishes, I had plenty of leftovers. I walked out into the Allison lounge and asked if anyone wanted free food. A very lovely young lady reading on the couch looked up at me and asked what kind of food. “Smoked Gouda and spinach mac ‘n cheese with an apple, walnut and endive side salad,” I said. Her immediate response was to ask me to marry her. Notes, single people, you should be taking them. That said, any time you want to impress someone, make them these dishes. They are vegetarian, healthy and delicious and they look beautiful for the brief moments between their completion and complete annihilation.

Serves 5-6 | Hands-on time: 45 minutes | Total Time: 1 hour | Source: MyRecipes and Yummly

Smoked Gouda mac ‘n cheese:


  • 1 (1-ounce) slice of whole wheat bread
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups fat-free milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded smoked Gouda cheese
  • 1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 5 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach
  • 4 cups hot cooked elbow macaroni (about 2 cups uncooked)
  • Cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place bread in a food processor, and pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 1/2 cup (or just rip into the smallest possible pieces).
  3. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic; cook 1 minute.
  4. Add flour; cook one minute, stirring constantly.
  5. Gradually add milk, salt and pepper, stirring constantly with a whisk until blended. Bring to a boil; cook until thick (about two minutes).
  6. Add cheeses; stir until melted.
  7. Add spinach and macaroni to cheese sauce, stirring until well blended.
  8. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until bubbly.

Apple, walnut and endive salad:


  • 1/3 cup walnuts (coarsely chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons mustard (grainy)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 shallot (minced)
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • Ground pepper
  • 2 apples (red, quartered and cored, cutting each quarter into 8 wedges)
  • 6 cups of baby arugula (washed and dried)
  • 1 Belgian endive (leaves separated, washed and dried)
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint (leaves coarsely chopped)
  • 2 ounces soft goat cheese (crumbled)


  1. In a small skillet over medium heat, toast walnuts, stirring frequently until crisp and fragrant, for about five minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, honey, shallot and vinegar until well combined. Whisk in the oil until thick; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add apple and arugula; toss to coat.
  4. Arrange endive leaves on five to six serving plates, top with apple mixture and scatter mint, cheese and walnuts over the top.

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