Recipe #5: Dirty Shells

After being inspired by Irene’s mac and cheese, deemed “dirty shells,” I knew I had to make my own version of it. These were the most cheesy, warm, and gooey shells that you can’t help but love.

It is surprisingly easy to make! I also used protein packed elbow noodles to make it macro friendly. Paired with a lovely garden salad and you have yourself the best weekend dinner. Here’s the recipe:


16 oz of protein elbow noodles (I used Barilla but also love Banza)
16 oz of ground pork
8 oz of fresh spinach
3 tbsp of kerrygold butter
1/3 cup of flour
2/3 cup of milk
1/3 cup of chicken broth
6 oz of mild cheddar
6 oz of parmesan
1/4 cup of colby jack
1/3 cup of bread crumbs
1 tbsp of garlic powder
1 tbsp of black pepper
1 tbsp of oregano
2 cloves of garlic
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)



  1. Cook the noodles according to the package and set aside.
  2. Heat up the EVOO in a large pan. Chop up the garlic cloves and add to the oil.
  3. After about a minute, add the ground pork and the seasonings. Stir for 5-7 minutes until almost cooked.
  4. Add the spinach slowly until wilted, which should take about 3-5 minutes. Set aside.
  5. Grab a saucepan and melt the butter slowly. Add the flour and whisk until thickened. Add the milk and allow to thicken while whisking for about 5 minutes until you have a made a roux in a viscous consistency.
  6. Add the chicken broth and continue whisking and simmering. Slowly add the parmesan and cheddar cheese and stir gently. Continue stirring for a few minutes until you have no lumps in your cheesy, beautiful sauce.
  7. Combine the noodles, pork + spinach, and sauce into a large casserole pan. I actually added them separately into the casserole pan and combined them in there instead of dirtying up another dish.
  8. Add the colby jack cheese on top, and then the bread crumbs. Broil for about 5 minutes.
  9. Serve with a salad and your favourite beverage and prepare for a food coma.

This easily fed four people with 3 servings left over. It cost about $20 for the whole casserole. Affordable, easy, comforting, and delicious. What more could you ask for?

What is your favourite mac and cheese dish? I would love to hear your go-to recipe!