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5 from 1 vote

Creamy, Spring-y, Smoked Gouda Stovetop Mac n Cheese

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time35 mins


  • Salt
  • 1 pound of shell pasta
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
  • 1 leek halved and sliced
  • 3 large pieces of kale leaves removed from stem and roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup peas
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 pound of smoked gouda shredded
  • 1/4 pound of fontina shredded


  • Bring a pot or Dutch oven of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente (my box of pasta said about 16 minutes—total lies! Mine took about 8 minutes). Drain and drizzle with a teeny bit of olive oil (this will prohibit them from sticking to each other).
  • In a medium skillet, set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks and a pinch of salt; cook for about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the kale and add a pinch of salt; cook for an additional 3 minutes, until the leeks and kale have softened. Lastly, add the peas and stir until the peas turn a bright green color, about a minute. Turn off the heat and set aside (to leave them in the pan is totally fine).
  • In a medium saucepan (I used the same dutch oven I used to boil the pasta), set over medium heat, add the butter. When melted, add the flour and stir until combined. Cook for about 1 minute. Pour in the milk and bring to a simmer; cook until it’s thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes. It should coat the back of a spoon. Turn off the heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Stir in a few rounds of freshly ground pepper (I did about 5).
  • Next, stir in the cheese and mix until melted. If needed, turn the heat to medium-low to completely melt the cheese. I found the smoked gouda needed some additional warmth to melt completely. (The fontina was perfect.) Give it a taste and add salt to taste.
  • Stir in the shells and add the reserved kale and leek mixture. Toss until evenly coated. Divide amongst bowls and top with a bit of parmesan and black pepper.


Other spring-y things you could use:
Dandelion greens (in place of kale)
Swiss chard (in place of kale)
Green onions (in place of leeks)
Spring onions (in place of leeks)
Ramps (you fancy if you do this but they'd be bomb in place of leeks!)
Fava beans (in place of peas)


Serving: 6g