This is a delicious recipe, a twist on my original White Cheddar Mac and Cheese, just loaded with lots of extra goodies like chicken, tomato, and spinach. A great way to take Mac and Cheese from a side dish to an entree! Enjoy!

Chicken Florentine Mac and Cheese (Gluten-free)

-1 (12 oz) box penne or other shaped pasta (I like this or this GF kind)
-6 Tbsp butter
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 shallot, diced
-1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
-4 Tbsp flour (I use GF all-purpose flour)
-1 cup chicken broth
-1 1/2 cups milk (I use unsweetened almond milk)
-2 1/2 cups freshly shredded white cheddar cheese (or you can use a mixture of cheeses if you prefer – I usually use at least one 8 oz block of white cheddar, then add a bit of Gruyere, Parmesan, Mozzarella or whatever else I have in the fridge. You want a good bulk of the cheese to be a sharper kind for the best flavor!)
-1 large chicken breast (or more), cooked and sliced
-handful of San Marzano cherry tomatoes, sliced
-2-3 cups fresh spinach
-salt, pepper, Italian seasoning to taste

1. Boil water and cook pasta according to package directions (I like my pasta al dente).
2. In large skillet, melt butter (over medium/high heat). Stir in garlic, shallot, mustard, and cayenne pepper and cook for about 1 minute.
3. Whisk in flour, stirring and cooking another minute or so until golden.
4. Whisk in broth and milk and stir constantly for 10 minutes or so, until sauce bubbles and thickens slightly (turning heat down to medium if needed).
5. Stir in cheeses until melted. Salt and pepper to taste. (I sprinkle in a little Italian seasoning as well). Stir in cooked pasta.
6. Stir in cooked chicken, tomato slices, and fresh spinach. Cook, stirring, for another minute or so until spinach starts to wilt slightly.
7. Enjoy as is or place in glass baking dish, sprinkle with toasted GF breadcrumbs, and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for another 30 minutes or so until nice and bubbly!


P.S. If you do decide to bake afterwards, I would suggest only cooking the pasta on the stove until it begins to soften, but is still slightly crunchy. Otherwise baking it might overcook the pasta and get too soft/mushy. As it is baking, the pasta absorbs more of the sauce and it is delicious! But, let’s be real, I’m usually ready to dive in and eat it and don’t have time for that!

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