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Macaroni and Cheese with Chickpeas and Spinach

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[Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

When matter and antimatter collide, they are transformed into a burst of high energy radiation. The same thing happens in this recipe. Except instead of matter we've got spinach (nothing says healthy like spinach!), instead of antimatter we've got mac and cheese (nothing says "screw the health, bring on the fat and carbs!" like mac and cheese), and instead of a burst of high energy radiation, we've got an explosion of delicious brilliance. With me so far?

It's kinda like getting your spinach dip and your mac and cheese all in one go (you can even add some chopped artichokes to the mix if it moves you to do so). To bump this dish up from dressed up mac and cheese to full-on meal status, I add a can of drained chickpeas. Pasta cut with legumes is slightly healthier than just pasta, right?

A sprinkle of smoked paprika ties the whole dish together. Like a rug.

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About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

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