12 ounces kale, stems cut from leaves (about 5 1/2 cups)
8 ounces elbow macaroni
1/2 ounce (1/2 cup) dried porcini, rinsed
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
For variations on this recipe, swap in another green for the kale, such as escarole, or even cooked chopped broccoli. Use Gruyere instead of Cheddar. For an extra kick, add 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard to the white sauce. Instead of buttered bread crumbs, top the casserole with crushed potato chips. Instead of making a large mac and cheese, separate the mixture into two 9- by 9-inch pans and freeze one, unbaked and well wrapped, for a later date. You can bake the frozen mac and cheese straight from the freezer; it should take about 45 minutes.
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