One of the first dishes I have in mind when the days start to get colder, is Mac and Cheese. While the basic combination of cooked pasta and cheese sauce is always tasty and warming, to make it more interesting, I often use more than one type of cheese in the sauce. I also like to add some other ingredients to the dish, in order to give it more texture and color, and enhance its nutritional values at the same time.
This time, I chose sautéed onion, shallot, colorful mini peppers and precooked bacon, as the added twist to the basic dish. Another twist was in the topping – instead of using only plain breadcrumbs, I mixed them with some chopped precooked bacon, finely grated Parmesan cheese and dried shallots – all contributed to form an even crispier and aromatic topping.
Served with a green salad on the side, this peppery, slightly hot and warming dish, is perfect for serving for lunch or dinner on a cold day. Try it and enjoy.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
2½ cups uncooked Rotini pasta
½ stick (55 grams) butter, soft
1 medium shallot, roughly chopped
1 small onion, roughly chopped
6-7 mini peppers, desseded and thinly cut, lengthwise
2 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly grated four peppers mix
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
4 oz (113 grams) aged sharp cheddar, roughly chopped
4 oz (113 grams) Pepper Jack cheese, roughly chopped
1 oz (30 grams) fully cooked bacon, roughly chopped
¼ cup flour
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 cups whole milk, at room temperature
For the topping:
1 oz (30 grams) fully cooked bacon, thinly cut
2 Tbs dried shallots
¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 oz (30 grams) Parmesan cheese, finely grated
¼ tsp freshly ground four peppers mix
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- Line an 8×8” (20×20 cm) baking pan with baking paper.
- Melt the butter in a wide pot, over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and onion. Mix and sauté for 1 minute. Add the peppers, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Mix and sauté until the peppers soften. Add the bacon and mix.
- Lower the heat to medium. Add the flour and mix well. Add the milk and mustard, while mixing. Cook for a minute, until the mixture thickens a bit.
- Add the chopped cheeses, mix and cook, while mixing occasionally, until the cheeses melt and the sauce is smooth and thick. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add the cooked pasta, mix gently and transfer to the pan. In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients for the topping, and scatter on top.
- Turn the broiler on, place the pan under it and broil for 1 minute, until the topping is brown and crispy. Serve immediately.