Sunday, March 6, 2011

Mac and Cheese with Bell Pepper

Yay, I'm a flexitarian! You don't know what that is? Well, I didn't either until recently. It describes a person who is predominantly a vegetarian but sometimes eats meat. It doesn't specify how often, though. So maybe I am not a flexitarian after all because I eat meat too often. I could be called a carnivore-flexitarian: someone who likes to eat meat, but doesn't have a steak every day. Why do people like it so much to put labels on themselves? (Why do you need a label for your nutritional behavior anyway?) But then they freak out about stereotyping. Is it offensive to assume that something that looks like a dog, behaves like a dog, and barks like a dog, actually is a dog? For some, this seems not to be PC.
For tonight's dinner, I made a version of the ultimate American classic and ubiquitous children's favorite: Mac and cheese. I hadn't known about this dish until I moved here. I have made different kinds of Mac&Cheese over the past few years and must say, I really liked this one. The pepper gives a nice additional flavor to it. This recipe is my take on Bon Appetit's "Pimiento Mac and Cheese". Enjoy!

1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, halved
3-4 slices of pickled jalapeno peppers
3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan
8 oz grated extra-sharp cheddar
4 oz grated whole-milk mozzarella
salt and black pepper
12-16 oz gemelli pasta
1/2 cup bread crumps

Bring 1/2 cup of water, red pepper, garlic, jalapeno pepper, and 2 tbsp butter to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes until bell pepper is soft. Add all the cheeses and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. In the mean time, cook pasta until al dente, drain, and return to pot. Add cheese sauce, mix well. Transfer to a baking dish and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Distribute remaining butter in shavings on top and bake at 400°F for 25 minutes until topping is crisp and golden. Let stand for 10 minutes and serve.

This recipe is linked to Tastetastic Thursday.

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