Bacon Kale Mac n Cheese is the ultimate comfort food. It has creamy cheese, salty bacon, and sautéed kale and is topped with buttery, crunchy crushed crackers. Mouth-watering!
I was challenged to use bacon, kale, oyster crackers, and Sargento Chef Blend 4 State Cheddar in a recipe for a the “Chopped at Home” Challenge. I’ve always been a purist when it comes to my mac n cheese, but I know immediately that I wanted to make Bacon Kale Mac n Cheese with the required ingredients.
My instincts were right, the combination of hearty kale with salty bacon and creamy shredded cheese is a winning combination. Top it with buttery crushed crackers and this is comfort food at its best! It’ll have everyone begging for seconds!
You can serve this recipe as a main course, it’s definitely hearty enough. You may want to serve it as a side. It would be a tasty accompaniment to steak, chicken, or fish.
Bacon Kale Mac n Cheese tips
- You may substitute any pasta in this recipe. I used shells simply because I had them on hand.
- I suggest reading through the recipe a couple of times before beginning. Also, measure your ingredients beforehand. This is not a difficult recipe, but it goes fast at the end.
- Although you can substitute different flavors of cheese, I prefer cheddar in this recipe. It pairs nicely with the kale and bacon.
- I used the curly variety of kale, it was all that was available to me at the grocery store. You can certainly experiment with the other types.
Tips on Kale
- When choosing kale, look for dark in color and medium in size. The leaves should not have any dark or yellow spots.
- Kale is a nutritional powerhouse. It is rich in vitamins A, C, and K as well as high in calcium and iron.
- Make fruit smoothies with kale. I was surprised that you can’t taste spinach or kale in smoothies. Use this smoothie recipe and substitute kale and your favorite fruits.
While you’re here, check out these recipes
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- Balsamic Butter Sauce over New York Strip Steaks
- Creamy Italian Sausage Soup
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Bacon Kale Mac n Cheese
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- 1/2 pound pasta
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 pound bacon
- 1 shallot minced (about 2 tablespoon
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 7.5 ounces cheddar cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- salt to taste you may not need salt since cheese is salty
- 2 cups kale
- 1/3 cup oyster crackers crushed
- 1 tablespoon butter or vegetable oil
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Wash kale and cut into large pieces
- In a large 10 to 12-inch oven-safe skillet, cook bacon to crisp. Remove from pan and drain. Chop into large pieces. Reserve drippings
- In a large pot, salt the water and boil the pasta to al dente
- Remove all but about 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings. Heat pan to medium, add shallot and kale. Saute 1 to 2 minutes until kale is wilted. Remove to a platter with a slotted spoon.
- Add 2 to 3 tablespoon more of the bacon drippings to the pan. Add flour, nutmeg, and pepper. Cook 1 to 2 minutes until lightly browned. Add milk and whisk until smooth. Cook until the mixture begins to thicken. Add cheese and stir until cheese melts.
- Add pasta, kale, shallots, and bacon to the cheese sauce. Gently stir to combine.
- In a small bowl, add butter or oil to crushed crackers and mix to combine.
- Top pasta mixture with crushed crackers.
- Bake at 350°F until the mixture is hot throughout and crumbs begin to brown.
- Remove from oven, allow to cool 5 minutes. Serve hot.