Food & Drink Magazine

Greek Mac and Cheese

By Mariealicerayner @MarieRynr
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Prior to moving over here to the UK, I have to admit I had a very limited palate.   I was a good cook, everyone said so, and people enjoyed coming to our home for meals, but I wasn't very adventurous when it came to trying new things.  I grew up on plastic cheese with a father who only let my mother season things with salt and pepper  . . .  using any herb or spice at all was to me quite adventurous.  I did simple, plain food, but I did it well.
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Mind you I never ever really lived anywhere where there was a mix of cultures with their variety of tastes, dishes and flavours.  Pierogi was exotic to me . . .  and when I learned how to make them I was very excited.  I never had pizza until I was in my late teens, and that came from a mix . . .  and a chinese meal at the local chinese restaurant never happened until I was also in my late teens and always consisted of sweet and sour chicken balls, egg roll, fried rice and sometimes chowmein.
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A friend cooked a curry for me once and I enjoyed it.  And another time I went to a Korean restaurant with my inlaws and had some really nice steak.  It was spicy, but good.   With five children we didn't really have a lot of money to eat out and when we did, it wasn't fancy or exotic.
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Then too, with five children . . .  catering to everyone's tastes and needs was also somewhat limiting.  I tended to stick with what was liked and enjoyed.  I made a great Bolognese, Lasagna, Meat pies, meatloaf and roast dinners . . .  and great cookies, cakes and pies. Moving over here to the UK, I had only myself and Todd to worry about.  I went to Chef's school.   I expanded my skills and my tastes.   The food here is truly a cornucopia of flavours and cultures, and there is a world of fresh and tasty ingredients at your fingertips.
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I am always excited when I go to the shops and am faced with the wide variety of choice, taste and color . . . and I love experimenting with what I find.   I really love Greek Salad.  I have never been to Greece, but I love the flavours that are associated with Greek food and so today I decided to incorporate them into a Greek type of Mac and Cheese.
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With meaty tart Kalamata olives, choice ripe tomatoes, salty briny Greek Feta cheese, baby spinach, garlic, oregano, and a few other odds and sods, this went down a real treat.  I was really happy with how it turned out and I think you will be too.  I think it's pretty safe to say I have become quite adventurous in my later years! Hooray!
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*Greek Mac and Cheese*Serves 4 to 6 Printable Recipe  
A delicious version of mac and cheese which embodies all that is wonderful about Greek Food.   Feta cheese, kalamata olives, tomatoes spinach . . .  What's not to like?  
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch strips1 tsp fine sea salt, divided1/2 tsp freshly ground black peppera couple dessert spoons of flour2 TBS olive oil1 TBS finely chopped garlic1 pound of pasta (use bow tie, raddiatore, or some other pasta that the sauce can cling to)(Cook until al dente and keep warm)1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes in tomato juice (14 ounce tin)1/2 pound of fresh spinach leaves, washed and trimmed1 1/2 TBS chopped fresh oregano leaves500ml of dry white whine (2 cups)7 ounces crumbled feta cheese (1 1/2 cups)a couple handfuls of pitted Kalamata or other black olives (about 1 cup)2 TBS buttera few TBS of grated Parmesan Cheese to garnish  
Place the chicken strips on a plate and season with 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/8 tsp of pepper.  Dredge in the flour on all sides.  
Heat a large deep skillet over high heat.  Add the olive oil when hot and swirl to coat the pan.  Add the chicken in a single layer and cook until slightly browned on one side.  Turn and brown on the other.  Push the chicken to the side of the pan and reduce the heat to medium.  Add the garlic and cook just until gragrant.  Add the undrained tomatoes, 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/8 tsp of black pepper.  Cook for a few minutes.  Add the wine and bring to the boil. 
Allow to reduce slightly and then stir in the spinach, oregano and some more salt and pepper.  Cook to wilt the spinach and make sure the chicken is cooked through.  Add the feta and olives, stirring well to combine.  Remove the pan from the heat.   Whisk in the butter a bit at a time, until the sauce has thickened slightly.  Add the cooked and drained pasta and heat through for several minutes, stirring a couple of times.   Serve in individual bowls with some Parmesan Cheese.
Note:  You could leave the chicken out of this entirely and it would still taste really good.  

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