Prep 15 mins
Cook 45 mins
This is one of the best macaroni and cheese bakes you will ever try. There’s lots of nippy cheddar cheese sauce flecked with hot peppers. A tomato salsa topper adds a snazzy new flavor.
- 5 cups rotini pasta or 5 cups fusilli
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 3 cups homogenized milk
- 3 cups grated old cheddar cheese, about 3/4 pound
- 1 tablespoon seeded and finely chopped fresh jalapeno peppers or 1 tablespoon canned jalapeno pepper
- 2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander or 2 tablespoons Italian parsley
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar or 2 teaspoons lemon juice or 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 1 large crushed garlic clove
- 1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, and
- ground cumin
- 1 pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F Bring a large pot of salted water to a full rolling boil. Add the pasta and boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until nearly cooked al dente, about 7 to 8 minutes. Drain well but do not rinse. Set aside. Lightly grease a 12 cup casserole dish.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium size saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and mustard. Do not let the flour brown. Gradually whisk in the milk. Continue stirring gently over medium heat until the sauce thickens, about 6 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese and the jalapeno pepper. Stir until the cheese is completely melted. Taste and add more jalapeno, if you wish.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and toss to evenly coat. Then, turn the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. (If making ahead, casserole can be refrigerated at this point for up to a day before serving.) Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly around the edges and the pasta is heated through.
- Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes. Set aside with the coriander in a medium size bowl. Stir in the vinegar, garlic and seasonings.
- Remove the baked pasta from the oven. Spoon some of the tomato mixture along the centre of the pasta. Serve remaining tomato mixture with each serving. The baked casserole will keep well, covered, in the refrigerator for several days or can be frozen.
- To microwave, cook the pasta following above directions.
- Meanwhile, in a 12 cup microwave safe casserole dish, microwave the butter, uncovered, on high for 1 minute or until melted. Whisk in the flour and mustard to make a smooth paste. Then, whisk in the milk. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 2 to 4 minutes, whisking every minute. Stir in the cheese and jalapeno pepper. Microwave, uncovered, until the cheese is completely melted, about 1 minute. Turn the well drained hot pasta into the hot cheese sauce. Microwave, uncovered, on high 1 to 2 minutes or until piping hot. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes and stir them with the coriander, vinegar, garlic and seasonings. Spoon remaining tomato mixture with each serving. Makes 6 servings.
- The New Chatelaine Cookbook.
Very yummy! I used colby and pepper jack cheeses bc that's what I had. I was a little skeptical of the cheese sauce bc it was still thin when combined with the pasta, even after letting it thicken while cooking. However, it worked out fine in the end. I already had homemade salsa made, so I can't comment on that part of the recipe. Will make again.
As a one dinner serving only, this was very flavorful, although I would spice up the salsa with a few jalapenos. Unfortunately, it does not freeze well. Thanks for posting, Olga.