Monday, March 14, 2011

Pimento Mac and Cheese

This month's Bon Appetit is all about baked pasta dishes so it's no wonder that the cover article and photo (above) caught my eye. I mean, look at that bowl of gooey cheese goodness. I've added several recipes on this blog over the years with pimento peppers because I grew up in a house that had a minimum of 6 jars on-hand at all times. My mothers is the pimiento QUEEN.

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.


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