Image by Country Clever
The spinach and artichoke mac and cheese can make a delicious lunch or lunch for the family.

Macaroni and cheese has become one of those go-to comfort dishes that you can rely to soothe those winter blues, cure a spring fever and everything in between.

And what's so great about it is that the the dish can be made so many ways.

Check out the three different spins you can put on mac and cheese, courtesy of 30 Days 30 Ways With Macaroni & Cheese. Bon appetit!

Carbonara Mac and Cheese from A Cozy Kitchen
Serves 6 – 8

1 pound fusilli, cooked just under al dente
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 pound pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1/2 yellow onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten in small bowl
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) Wisconsin Gruyere Cheese, shredded and divided
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) Wisconsin Parmesan Cheese, grated and divided
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. Add one teaspoon olive oil to large sauté pan and place over medium heat. When oil is hot, add pancetta and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes. Remove pancetta with spoon and transfer to bed of paper towels to drain. Set aside. 

Add onion to same sauté pan and cook until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Place garlic and thyme  over the onions and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add butter and melt. Once melted, mix in flour and cook 1-2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and whisk in milk until mixture has thickened, about 4- 6 minutes. Add a few teaspoons of warm milk mixture to bowl with egg yolks and whisk. Add egg/milk mixture back to pan and mix until completely combined. 

Turn off heat and add Dijon mustard, 1 cup Gruyere and 1 cup Parmesan. Add salt to taste; mix well. In large bowl, add pancetta, pasta and cheese mixture; toss together until pasta is evenly coated. Transfer to a 13”x 10” casserole dish and sprinkle top with remaining Gruyere, Parmesan and freshly cracked pepper. Transfer to oven and bake 12-15 minutes, until top is melted. Serve immediately. 

Spinach and Artichoke Mac and Cheese from Country Clever
Serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 6-ounce bag fresh spinach*
1 14-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, roughly chopped, and divided
4 ounces (1/2 cup) cream cheese, softened
1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin Parmesan Cheese, shredded and divided
2 tablespoons shallots, minced
2 tablespoons garlic, minced and divided
1 12-ounce box whole wheat penne pasta
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup (4 ounces) medium Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin Havarti Cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon sriacha sauce

Preheat oven to 400°F. If using fresh spinach, heat olive oil in large sauté pan over medium heat, add spinach and wilt.  Remove to plate to cool. Squeeze excess water from spinach. Set aside.

In small bowl, combine half of drained spinach and half of chopped artichoke hearts. Stir in softened cream cheese and ½ cup Parmesan Cheese.  Stir in shallots and 1 tablespoon garlic.   Pour mixture into oven- safe baking dish and bake for 15 minutes or until the mixture  is toasted on top and heated through. Remove from oven; cover to keep warm and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside. In medium pot, melt butter and whisk in flour. Continue whisking vigorously over medium high heat until roux becomes golden brown. Add milk slowly, 1/2 cup at a time, whisking during each addition. Bring mixture to boil. Add mustard, pepper, 1 tablespoon garlic, remaining cheeses and sriacha sauce. Stir in reserved spinach and artichokes, mixing until evenly incorporated.

Pour pasta into cheese mixture; mix to ensure all pasta is coated evenly. Plate and top with a generous spoonful of warm spinach and artichoke mixture. Serve and devour.

*1 9-ounce package frozen spinach may be substituted for fresh.  Thaw and drain spinach, squeezing to remove excess liquid. 

Eggplant Parm Mac and Cheese from FamilyStyle Food
Serves 6

1 eggplant, ends trimmed, peeled
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt; plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
3 cups Italian-seasoned panko or bread crumbs
Olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup (2 ounces) Wisconsin Asiago Cheese, shredded
1 pound cooked pasta shells or spirals
1 cup marinara sauce, homemade or prepared
3/4 cup (3 ounces) Wisconsin Fontina Cheese, shredded

Place large rimmed baking sheet on oven rack and preheat oven to 450°F.

Slice eggplant in half lengthwise and then into ½-inch wide half-moons.

Whisk together egg, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper and garlic in large bowl; add eggplant and toss to coat. Dredge eggplant in panko or bread crumbs.

Pour enough olive oil over the bottom of preheated baking sheet to cover to depth of 1/8-inch. Place eggplant on  sheet and roast 10 minutes; flip eggplant slices and roast additional 10 minutes or until eggplant is tender and crust is golden. Lower oven temperature to 400°F.

Meanwhile, heat medium saucepan over moderate heat; add butter and heat until foaming subsides and butter is melted. Whisk in flour; cook 1 minute. Slowly pour in milk while whisking. Bring to simmer; lower heat and cook 5 – 10 minutes, whisking occasionally, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in Asiago Cheese; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Combine the pasta with the milk mixture and transfer to a large casserole or baking dish. Top with the eggplant, marinara sauce and Fontina Cheese. Bake 15 minutes, until hot and cheese is melted.

For more cool ways to make your mac and cheese, check out the 30 Days 30 Ways With Macaroni & Cheese site.