Baked White Cheddar Mac n Cheese with Kale and Bacon

This Baked White Cheddar Mac n Cheese with Kale and Bacon is a bit sinful.

Pasta loaded with rich, velvety cheese gets my taste buds watering during these often colder than fall but not quite winter yet evenings.

I am a bit nuts about Kale these days.

My latest obsession: Baked White Cheddar Mac n Cheese with Kale and Bacon.

It often finds a place in the vegetable bin of my refrigerator.

I have found that it is an easy way to add extra vegetables, color and nutrition to many of my favorite cold weather recipes.

I am adding it to everything.

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On a chilly evening with snow in the forecast last week I found myself craving Macaroni and Cheese.

A lonely bunch of Kale sat in the produce bin of my refrigerator.

It was an obvious addition for a nutritional boost on such a rich dish of Mac n Cheese.

4 Things You Should Know About Kale

1. Nutritional Benefits of Kale

Kale is a nutritional powerhouse and a great way to add extra dark, leafy greens to your diet.

As a member of the Brassica family.

It finds itself in good company with other nutritious cruciferous vegetables such as

  • cabbage
  • collards
  • broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts

Kale is rich in iron, Vitamin A, C and K, and Calcium.

Does that make this Baked White Cheddar Mac n Cheese with Kale and Bacon a healthy recipe?

Kidding…

Sort of…

At least it is healthier than if there wasn’t any kale in it.

2. Kale Flavor Pairings

Kale Pairs well with cheese, especially Parmesan and cheddar.

It also pairs well with garlic, pasta, onions, pancetta (Italian bacon), chicken, olive oil, and chicken stock.

So basically, kale is a flavor match for a lot of the ingredients in this recipe for like this Baked White Cheddar Mac n Cheese with Kale and Bacon!

  • parmesan
  • cheddar
  • butter
  • onions
  • bacon
  • pasta

A lot of the flavor pairings for kale makes it a natural addition to fall and winter comfort foods like soups or pasta based casseroles.

3. Kale Varieties

There are several varieties of kale.

Kale varieties  include

  • curly
  • dinosaur
  • red Russian

I’m sure there are other varieties, but these are what I have found available.

I typically only see curly at a standard grocery store.

Sometimes I will see the dinosaur variety in my regular grocery store.

I have found that if I am looking for something other than curly it is best to rely on health food stores such as Whole Foods.

I use curly or dinosaur kale in this recipe for Baked White Cheddar Mac n Cheese with Kale and Bacon.

I haven’t tried the recipe with any other varieties.

4. Kale Selection Tips

Select Kale during autumn through spring months for peak nutrition and quality.

Leaves should appear dark colored, small to medium in size, and with no brown or yellow leaves.

It may be stored in the refrigerator for 3 – 5 days.

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Reader Reviews for Baked White Cheddar Mac and Cheese

“Made this for dinner tonight. It was AMAZING! I made it without onions because it was for company and I didn’t know if they like onions. But it was delicious and I wouldn’t change a thing!”

“This macaroni recipe is delicious! I used baby kale, chard and collards (because I had to use them from my CSA) and didn’t add any croutons but it turned out delicious!”

More Mac and Cheese Recipes

This Bacon and Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese features penne covered in a creamy, rich sauce of pureed butternut squash, parmesan, and sharp white cheddar with bacon and fresh sage.

Jalapeño Bacon Mac n Cheese is loaded with poblano peppers, jalapeños, pepper jack cheese, and of course lots of bacon!

In this recipe for Baked Gruyere and Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese, Gruyere is accented by Mascarpone and Parmesan Cheese creates a rich, velvety sauce in this recipe.

Southwestern Mac and Cheese features penne with cheddar, pepper jack, green chiles, tomatoes, and plenty of southwestern seasonings.

More Kale Recipes

Looking for more recipes to make with kale? Check out some of these recipes, or browse the whole recipe index.

Kale, purple cabbage, carrot, and red bell pepper are tossed with a jalapeño lime vinaigrette for a healthy Mexican inspired Cilantro Lime Kale Slaw.

Slow Cooker Ham Soup with Potatoes and Kale is both easy to prepare and flavorful, thanks to the use of a slow cooker and the rich flavor that a leftover ham bone imparts.

In this Berry Mango Kale Smoothie, Wild Blueberries, Strawberries, Red Raspberries and Blackberries are combined with Mango, Fresh Kale, Chia Seeds, and Orange Juice for a refreshing smoothie.

In this Massaged Kale Salad with Roasted Squash, Goat Cheese, and Pepitas kale is lightly massaged with olive oil, salt and pepper. Then, tossed with roasted delicata squash, roasted red onions, herbed goat cheese, and pepitas.

These “Cheesy” Kale Chips are a great, healthy way to satisfy your cravings for something salty and cheesy. Nutritional yeast gives them a nutrient-rich cheesy flavor without any added dairy.

Rainbow Winter Quinoa Bowls with Maple Dijon Balsamic Dressing features lots of delicious winter produce and hearty quinoa a filling, satisfying meal.

This recipe for Rosemary Chicken Chowder with White Beans started came to fruition on one of those nights where I found myself starting into the pantry wondering what on earth I was going to make for dinner.

Butternut Squash and Kale Quinoa Stuffing is a fantastic vegetarian stuffing recipe loaded with tons of veggies and flavors.

What are your favorite ways to eat kale?

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Baked White Cheddar Mac n Cheese with Kale and Bacon

Baked White Cheddar Mac n Cheese with Kale and Bacon

Yield: serves 8
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Baked White Cheddar Mac n Cheese with Kale and Bacon is a bit sinful. Pasta loaded with rich, velvety cheese, kale, plenty of bacon, and a nice crispy topping.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. macaroni
  • 3 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 of a purple onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 8 ounces sharp white cheddar, grated
  • 1 ounce parmesan, finely grated
  • dash nutmeg
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, or according to personal preference
  • 6 ounces center cut bacon or pancetta, cooked and crumbled
  • 3 1/2 ounces fresh kale, chopped (about a half a bunch)
  • 1/2 cup crushed Homemade Sourdough Garlic Butter Croutons

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta one to two minutes less than package instructions.
  2. Drain pasta and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the bacon pieces in half vertically, then into small bite sized pieces.
  4. Cook bacon until crispy. Then drain, and set aside.
  5. In a large French or Dutch oven, melt the butter.
  6. Saute the onion for 3 - 5 minutes over medium heat, or until tender and golden.
  7. Add the garlic and saute and additional minute or two, until fragrant.
  8. Whisk in the flour and cook over medium heat till golden.
  9. Slowly whisk in the milk while cooking over medium heat.
  10. Stir in the sharp white cheddar and parmesan cheese, whisking until melted and creamy.
  11. Add the nutmeg, cayenne, black pepper, and salt (if desired).
  12. Bring to a slow simmer, and then stir in the pasta, bacon, and kale.
  13. Transfer the pasta mixture to a 3 1/2 quart oven safe casserole dish or cast iron pan.
  14. Sprinkle the top with the crushed Homemade Sourdough Garlic Butter Croutons.
  15. Bake at 375 degrees F on the center rack in the oven for 10-20 minutes, or until the mixture is hot and bubbly.
  16. Serve immediately.

Notes

Panko breadcrumbs may be substituted for the Homemade Sourdough Garlic Butter Croutons. Stir 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh garlic and 1 tablespoon melted butter in with the panko breadcrumbs before topping the Mac and Cheese.

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