Classic mac and cheese gets a Greek style twist with this comforting and flavor-packed recipe inspired by the classic Greek feta cheese and spinach savory pie. Serve as a refreshing take on a classic vegetarian main or holiday side dish. Or, simply bake some extra comfort into your weeknight routine.
Get ready. Position a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 375°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Coat the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with a thin layer of olive oil. (If you haven’t warmed your milk yet, do this now.)
Cook the pasta. Season the boiling water generously with kosher salt. Add the pasta and cook to al dente according to package instructions (about 8 to 9 minutes), then drain and return to the pot. Set aside off the heat.
While the pasta boils, make the spinach and feta filling. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the spinach, onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is warmed through and the onions have softened (about 5 minutes). Add the parsley, thyme, and 1 ½ cups of the feta. Toss to combine, then turn off the heat.
Start the Greek Béchamel. In a large saucepan, heat the ⅓ cup olive oil over medium heat. Once it’s shimmering (but before smoking), stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir constantly until the color is deeply golden, 1 to 2 minutes. It will look like a thick paste but if it’s too dry or lumpy just add a little more olive oil.
Add the milk. Gradually whisk in the warmed milk. Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally until it’s thickened enough to coat a spoon, 5 to 7 minutes.
Temper the eggs. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until fully homogeneous. Continue whisking as you slowly drizzle in a small ladle of the hot béchamel.
Incorporate the eggs. Add the tempered eggs to the béchamel while whisking constantly. Continue to stir or whisk the mixture, bringing it to a simmer for just 2 more minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool and thicken a little more. You should have a creamy, thick and smooth béchamel sauce.
Coat the pasta. Pour half of the béchamel sauce and all of the mozzarella cheese over the drained pasta. Mix with a wooden spoon so the pasta is well-coated. If needed, add a small drizzle of olive oil to help mix it well. Set aside for now.
Assemble the spanakopita mac and cheese. To the prepared baking dish, add half of the pasta mixture in one even layer. Spread the spinach and feta mixture over top, then add the remaining pasta mixture followed by the remaining béchamel. Be sure to spread the top layer of sauce evenly over the pasta. Finish with the remaining ½ cup crumbled feta and the bread crumbs.
Bake. Place the mac and cheese on the center rack and bake until warmed through and the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Rest and serve. Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with a sprinkle of freshly minced parsley. Slice into 12 square pieces and serve.
Make sure to drain and wring out the spinach very well, otherwise it will release too much water when you cook it with the onion.
Use a low-moisture mozzarella as it’s better for melting. Opt for whole blocks of mozzarella and feta cheese if you can–they tend to have a better flavor than pre-crumbled or pre-grated.