Garlic Bread Crusted Macaroni and Cheese with Brie

Macoroni and Cheese with Brie and a Garlic Bread Topping

This is a very non-traditional recipe for Macaroni and Cheese made with creamy Brie, fresh tomatoes, spinach, black olives and a crusty Garlic Bread topping. This is a bit fancier than the childhood classic. And definitely not your run-of-the-mill mac ‘n’ cheese!

I considered combining the mild-mannered Brie with a sharper cheese but didn’t want to over power it or change the consistency. Instead, I tossed in an array of colorful goodies to brighten up the flavor: fresh, chopped tomatoes, meaty black olives and chopped spinach. I used soft, fresh Italian bread cubes tossed with garlic and butter to make the crust; a component that really sets it apart and makes it special.

This is the first time I’ve had a macaroni and cheese taste better the next day, I usually like them less the second time around. I loved this just as much reheated, if not more. The flavors developed further and it was almost as creamy as if it had just came out of the oven.

The golden croutons are crispy on the outside with a tender interior. The contrast between them and the soft, creamy pasta is totally delectable. The pungent bite of the garlic is a lovely complement to the brie. This is a complete comfort meal that you will love just as much as my family. You can serve it as a main dish with a salad or as a side dish where it will steal all the glory.

Garlic Bread Crusted Macaroni and Cheese with Brie

This can also be made without the tomatoes, olives and spinach: increase the pasta to 8 ounces.

Brie Macaroni and Cheese with a Garlic Bread Crust
(by Reeni)

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
6 cloves Garlic, minced
5 tablespoons Butter, divided
3 heaping cups of Cubed, Fresh Italian Bread, 1/2-3/4 inch
1 tablespoon Parsley, fresh, chopped
6 ounces Penne Pasta (like Barila whole-grain)
1 cup Frozen Chopped Spinach
1 cup Tomato, diced
1 cup Olives, diced
1/2 teaspoon Sea or Kosher Salt
1/8 teaspoon Fresh Black Pepper
1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Thyme
2 cups Whole Milk
8 ounces Brie, rind removed, cubed (like Ile De France)
Parmesan Cheese

1. In a large skillet over medium-low heat the olive oil, add garlic and saute until fragrant, add 2 tablespoons butter and melt, turn off heat and add bread and parsley, tossing well to coat the bread cubes. Remove from heat and set pan aside.

2. Cook penne to al dente according to package directions in plenty of salted water, also adding the spinach in. To a large mixing bowl add the tomatoes and olives. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a 8×8-inch deep sided casserole or baking dish. Toss drained penne and spinach with the tomatoes and olives, season with salt and pepper. Pour into casserole pan.

3. In a medium saucepan melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat, whisk in flour and thyme, cook for three to four minutes whisking, then slowly whisk in milk and bring to a simmer. Turn heat down to low and slowly add in Brie cubes whisking over low heat. When Brie is melted remove from heat and pour over pasta. Evenly spread the bread cubes over top making sure to get every bit of garlic and parsley from the pan.

4. Bake for 15 minutes at 400, turn down heat to 375 and bake for 10 more minutes until bubbly.

5. Let set for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Printable Recipe

Macaroni & Cheese with Brie and a Garlic Bread Topping

I’m linking to this to Meatless Mondays at Chaya’s of My Sweet and Savory.

I’m also adding it to my Side Dish Showdown! Keep your side dishes coming! Add your links here at the bottom of the post.

I’m sending this to Rachel of The Crispy Cook for her Presto Pasta Nights round-up.

Thank you Ile De France for the complimentary samples of Brie!

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Arugula and Feta Pasta Toss

Arugula & Feta Pasta

This easy pasta recipe was inspired by Lidia Bastianich. She’s an Italian Chef on PBS with cookbooks and restaurants. I love her food – a mix of rustic, comforting, sometimes complex and often times simple recipes. I caught bits and pieces of her making a pasta dish using Ricotta Salata and arugula and knew instantly I would be making it!

Ricotta Salata is a firm, salty cheese and you may know arugula by it’s other name: rocket – a peppery, mustardy, sometimes bitter salad green. I used what I had on hand and it happened to be Feta, which I found out afterward is a good substitute.

This couldn’t be easier – sauted garlic is tossed with cooked linquine, cheese and arugula for a delicious dish that takes mere minutes to prepare. It’s a wonderful canvas to build on if you want something heartier. A small squeeze of lemon or lemon peel will brighten up the flavors and crumbled bacon or prosciutto would also be great to add in. Next time I’m going to saute some sun-dried tomatoes along with the garlic. Just keep in mind that you don’t really want to cook the arugula – you only need to add enough heat for it to wilt.

Arugula & Feta Pasta

Pasta w/ Arugula and Feta
(Inspired by Lidia Bastianich)
8 ounces Linguine
4 garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil for sauteing
2 cups baby Arugula leaves
8 ounces Feta cheese Ricotta Salata, crumbled
1/3 cup Parmesan, shredded, plus more for serving
Extra-Virgin Olive oil for drizzling
Sea or Kosher Salt & fresh Black Pepper, for serving
Fresh squeezed lemon, optional
1. Cook the pasta according to package directions to al dente.
2. When the pasta is almost cooked saute the garlic in olive oil in a large skillet over low heat until fragrant.
3. Add the arugula and saute until the leaves begin to wilt. Turn off heat.
4. Drain pasta and reserve a 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta to the skillet along with the cheeses, toss well, add a little bit of the pasta water if needed and a squeeze of lemon/lemon peel if desired.
5. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and Parmesan.
Mix My Granola

I want to give a shout-out and a thank-you to Raoul and Matt of Mix My Granola for sending Moon and I our very own custom mix of “Yummy Cinnamon Granola” with dates, blueberries, cashews, yogurt pretzels, tiramisu caramels, and pomegranate cordials, an absolutely delicious combination that I loved.  At Mix My Granola you can customize your own granola anyway you like it. Almost everything is organic, all-natural, and they have a huge selection of goodies to mix-in – mostly healthy and some that are a little on the indulgent side for granola.

Kitchen Cat approved!

Moon approved Mix My Granola

Arugula & Feta Pasta

Arugula & Feta Pasta on FoodistaArugula & Feta Pasta