I’m not sure what has happened to macaroni and cheese over the years but it’s definitely gone from a dorky, lame, kids food to a gourmet experiment and I’m totally all about playing around with flavors which is probably why this grown up macaroni and cheese is totally delicious in my opinion, and why I couldn’t resist making a roasted red pepper macaroni and cheese. There’s nothing that shouts dairy like a good macaroni and cheese so at least one of my Utah Dairy Council Posts had to include it.
Macaroni and cheese is macaroni and cheese. No bacon, no lobster, certainly no avocados, but definitely cheddar cheese. That’s the classic. And I love it. Everyone needs a good classic macaroni and cheese recipe. Our Grandma Carol is famous in our family for her Southern Macaroni and Cheese, but even that I think is different than a classic mac. In fact, I’m such a connoisseur of mac that I divide it out into categories.
You’ve got your classic macaroni and cheese which should be creamy, cheesy and should never have any mixins. Then there’s the southern macaroni and cheese which should always have an elbow pasta and totally is more about the cheese than the creamy factor. Then there’s the baked macaroni and cheese which I happen to adore, this one totally needs the golden, buttery bread crumbs or panko on top and can include small mixins like little bits of bacon or peppers.
Oh, don’t worry I’m totally not done. Then we have our gourmet macaroni and cheese where different flavors of cheeses, consistencies, and pastas are used and last but certainly not least there’s the macaroni and cheese pasta dishes. I just don’t know that I can truly call this a straight mac and cheese because these are the ones where the roasted red peppers or avocados come into play. It’s almost more of a cheesy sauce than a macaroni and cheese.
Did I miss any categories? Those are the ones that I think of. My kids are actually opinionated about their macaroni and cheese as well, if it’s Kraft it has to be a shape like Arthur or Scooby Doo, otherwise it’s all about Back to Nature Bugs. This particular macaroni and cheese pasta they loved. Like, really loved. The shells hold in extra sauce which is always a fantastic little surprise when you bite into it, and the sauce is seriously so creamy with a hint of that full roasted pepper taste that adds a little something without overpowering the dish.
So I’m curious, are you a purist, a gourmet gal, or like me where you like a little bit of everything depending on your mood. And have you found your go to recipe?
Roasted Red Pepper Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 lb small shell pasta (16 ounces)
- 3 roasted red bell peppers (I buy the jarred ones but you could roast your own)
- ½ Cup butter, unsalted
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- ½ Cup Flour
- 1 Cup Milk
- 1 Cup Heavy Cream
- 1 Cup Medium Cheddar Cheese, shredded fine
- 1 Cup Mild Cheddar Cheese (or sharp for more of a bite), shredded fine
- 1 pinch of nutmeg
- 1 1 /4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
- ¼ Teaspoon Pepper
- In a large pot add water halfway up and add 1-2 Teaspoons Kosher salt (the water should taste slightly salty) Heat over high heat until boiling and add the pasta, cooking per package instructions. Set aside.
- In a blender puree the roasted red peppers until smooth, set aside.
- In a separate pot, over medium heat add the butter and cook until melted. Add the garlic and saute for 20-30 seconds and then whisk in the flour. Continue to whisk for 30 seconds or until a nutty aroma fills the air. Whisk in the roasted red pepper until it's all mixed together and then continue to whisk as you slowly pour in the milk and cream. Once the mixture is smooth add the salt, pepper, nutmeg and cheeses. Whisk until all of the cheese is incorporated and spoon the pasta into the mixture, adding a tablespoon or two of pasta water if needed. Serve immediately.