Pimento peppers are not hot rather they're sweet and more aromatic than a red bell pepper. They are tough to find fresh and easy to find canned or jarred at your local grocery. Cost is usually a buck per small can so grab a couple to keep in your pantry. You can never have too many.
Pimento Mac and Cheese
- 1 7- to 8-ounce red bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 garlic cloves, halved, divided
- 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 3/4 cup drained mild Peppadew peppers in brine, 1 tablespoon brine reserved
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ancho chiles
- 1 1/4 cups (packed) coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup (packed) coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella
- 8 ounces medium shell pasta or gemelli
- Bring 1/2 cup water, bell pepper, and 11/2 garlic cloves to boil in small saucepan. Cover; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pepper is soft, about 15 minutes.
- Toast panko in skillet over medium-high heat until golden, stirring often, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to bowl; cool to lukewarm. Rub 1 tablespoon butter into crumbs to coat. Mix in 1/4 cup Parmesan.
- Transfer bell pepper mixture to processor. Add Peppadews and 1 tablespoon brine, 2 tablespoons butter, ground chiles, and 1/2 garlic clove; then add cheddar and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Blend until sauce is smooth; season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter 8-cup baking dish (or 6 individual dishes). Cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain; return to pot. Stir sauce and mozzarella into pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon pasta into dish. Sprinkle with crumb topping.
- Bake pasta until topping is crisp and sauce is bubbling, about 25 minutes (15 for individual). Let stand 10 minutes.