Your kids will love this ultra creamy and satisfyingly savory vegetarian Gluten Free Creamy Tomato Spinach Mac n’ Cheese. Hide all kinds of veggies in this kid approved and adult loving individually served pasta dish.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I utter the words “pasta for dinner” my kids go full blown crazy. They LOVE pasta! There is pretty much no pasta they don’t like. Of course, there are certain flavors or sauces that they prefer over others, but for the most part, pasta = winner dinner.
I’ve been so proud of both my girls this week. Braelyn has taken third grade by storm, making oodles of new friends, listening to the directions of her teachers, helping out her little sister, and completing all of her school work.
Honestly, the only thing she could improve on is waking up in the morning without flashing a full on attitude and whining about how early it is. Other than that, girlfriend has this school gig down pat.
As for Emry, she has embraced this new kindergarten life in full. She has never once complained, cried, shied away from, or avoided going to school. She wakes up in the morning, gets all her stretches out, completes her morning routine, and strolls on down to the bus stop…hand in hand with mom, of course.
She then returns home with a smile on her face (although looking a bit disheveled), gobbles up a snack, gives me a brief synopsis of her day, and continues on with her 5 year old life.
I have to say, I am one proud mama that my kids are so well adapted. They encounter new life situations with such confidence a a sense of security, knowing that I will always be right here waiting for them when they return. Oh my sweet babies!
So it was quite the no brainer that after three full days of school success, it was time to feast on some celebratory cuisine: Pasta. There’s nothing like some good old comfort food to tell your kids you love them. And you know what kind of pasta kids love best??? Macaroni and cheese!
I decided to switch up your typical mac n’ cheese by adding lots of veggies, mixing it with a creamy tomato sauce, and topping it with melty cheese and crispy breadcrumbs. I have to tell you, this Gluten Free Creamy Tomato Spinach Mac n’ Cheese received rave reviews from the entire family. I had some happy kiddos indeed.
I’ve been contemplating doing a weekly product review on the blog, listing different food items I’ve tried throughout the week and giving my opinion of their quality. This mac n’ cheese recipe would be the perfect guinea pig for a post like that. I tried out three different gluten free products to make this dish.
First, I eyed this bag of gluten free noodles at Costco. They are a rice and quinoa based noodle, which I was skeptical about because my last experience with quinoa noodles was a disaster to say the least. Well guess what??? These noodles were delicious!!! I’m actually excited to have a bulk sized bag sitting in my pantry waiting to be transformed into other delicious recipes. The brand was called GoGo Quinoa and I highly recommend it.
For the sauce, I cooked up some diced sweet potatoes, celery stalk, and onion. Once those were tender, I added some Pacific brand Organic Creamy Tomato Soup, veggie broth, and cream cheese to create an ultra creamy and savory sauce. The soup lent excellent flavor to the base of the mixture. Again, highly recommended.
Once I had my sauce ready, I tossed in the warm noodles and a few handfuls of baby spinach leaves and then divided it between single serve oven safe mugs. Since the sauce wasn’t necessarily “cheesy”, I wanted some melted cheese on top along with a crunchy, buttery breadcrumb topping.
I was recently at Sprouts and spotted these Kinnikinnick Foods Gluten Free Panko Style Bread Crumbs on sale. I bought them and immediately busted them out for this recipe. They are very basic breadcrumbs without any extra flavor, so they are perfect for adding your own flare. I mixed the breadcrumbs with some melted butter, Parmesan cheese, and a bit of salt and pepper to create a super tasty, crispy coating for the top of my mac n’ cheese mugs. Two thumbs up for this product as well.
I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt serving this mac n’ cheese to my kiddos. It was made from purely wholesome ingredients and had an equal ratio of veggies to pasta. Plus there was only a minimal amount of cheese sprinkled on top in addition to the cream cheese that was melted in the sauce.
Also, I loved that I could pre-portion the pasta into individual cups, knowing my kids were getting just the right amount to fill their tummies…and Ben’s tummy too. Sometimes I feel like I’m Ben’s nutrition coach in life. He’ll thank me someday. Haha!
So reward your family sometime this week and surprise them with this scrumptious simple meal. You’re sure to get two thumbs up dude!
How do you jazz up your mac n’ cheese?
- 3½ cups cooked gluten free pasta (preferably elbow macaroni or penne shaped)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1½ cups diced and peeled sweet potatoes (about 1 large or 2 small)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 cup chopped celery stalk, leaves included
- salt and pepper for seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon crushed rosemary*
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme*
- ½ teaspoon dried basil*
- ⅓ cup white cooking wine
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 single serve container Pacific Organic Creamy Tomato Soup (8 oz. or 1 cup)
- 1 cup veggie broth
- 4 oz. cream cheese, cut into cubes
- 4 cups packed baby spinach leaves
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons finely shredded Parmesan cheese (I used the can cheese)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ cup gluten free panko style bread crumbs
- 1½ cups shredded Italian style cheese
- In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. While oil is heating, peel and cube sweet potatoes, dice onion, and chop celery.
- Once oil is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles, add veggies. Generously season with salt and pepper (about ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper). Add rosemary, thyme, and basil (or Italian seasoning). Saute, stirring occasionally for 7-8 minutes until onions are tender. At this point, begin boiling water to cook your pasta.
- Add white wine and lemon juice. Stir to remove any browned bits from bottom of the pan. Saute for an additional 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid burning. At this point add your pasta to the boiling water to cook. Cook according to package directions.
- Add soup, veggie broth, and cubed cream cheese to saucepan with veggies. Stir until cream cheese has completely melted and sauce is smooth. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes until sweet potatoes are tender. At this point, preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- While sauce is simmering, melt butter in a small mixing bowl. Add parmesan cheese, ¼ teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon pepper, and bread crumbs. Mix to combine.
- Uncover sauce pan. Season sauce to taste with additional salt and pepper. Add spinach leaves and cooked (and drained) pasta. Stir to combine.
- Divide pasta evenly between 8 oven safe ramekins, mugs, or bowls. Top each with shredded Italian cheese and breadcrumb mixture. Bake for 5 minutes at 450 degrees or until golden brown and bubbly. Remove from oven and serve warm.