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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Macaroni and Cheese w/ Roasted Jalapeño-Tomato Salsa

Although my favorite mac 'n cheese and I are still going steady, if anything were to ever come between us, it would be this version.  It's smooth and creamy and laced with the deep earthiness of roasted chiles, tomatoes, onions, and garlic.  Though it's infused with a pleasant heat, it is still classically cheesy.  We definitely hit if off.

I gave it a little gift after we spent time together in the kitchen.  Tortilla strips.  Okay, tortilla squares to be exact.  Crisp.  Salty.  The perfect adornment.  Don't let the photograph fool you.  I stacked on another handful and stirred it up before tucking in.  Sure, you could forgo the tortillas for buttered bread crumbs.  If you're into that kind of thing.  You could even shun all "jewelry" and go bare.  I wouldn't blame you.  It looks good in nothing. And tastes good, too.
Macaroni and Cheese w/ Roasted Jalapeño-Tomato Salsa

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20-30 minutes
Keywords: entree side vegetarian cheese chiles pasta tomatoes American

Ingredients (serves 8)
    Roasted Jalapeño-Tomato Salsa:
    • 1½ lbs. ripe plum tomatoes (~10 medium)
    • 1-1½ oz. jalapeños, stemmed (2-3)
    • 2 oz. white onion, sliced ¼" thick (~½ small)
    • 4 fat garlic cloves, peeled
    • ~¼ c. water
    • ⅓ c. fresh chopped cilantro, loosely packed
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1½ tsp. cider vinegar
    for the mac and cheese:
    • 2 c. milk
    • 2 oz. butter
    • ¼ c. all-purpose flour
    • 2 c. Roasted Jalapeño-Tomato Salsa
    • 12 oz. shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese
    • ~1½ tsp. salt
    • 1 lb. cavatappi (or other short spiral or twisty pasta)
    to garnish:
    • chopped cilantro, optional
    • fried tortilla pieces, optional
    making the Roasted Jalapeño-Tomato Salsa (yield ~2½ c.):
    Heat the broiler. Lay the tomatoes, jalapeños, onions, and garlic cloves on a broiler pan, baking sheet, or foil. Set pan below broiler and broil until darkly roasted and blacked in spots, turning as needed. The garlic will get done before everything else, just pull it out and continue on with the rest. This could take a total of ~12-15 minutes.

    Transfer jalapeños, onion, and garlic to the jar of a blender or food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl. Add the tomatoes (peel first, if you wish) to the jar without rinsing it out first, along with any accumulated juices and coarsely puree them. Add them to the bowl. Stir in enough of the water to give the salsa an easily spoonable consistency. Stir in the cilantro. Season with salt and vinegar.

    Will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 5 days if necessary.
    making the Macaroni and Cheese:
    Fill a large pot with about 4 quarts of heavily salted water and bring to a boil.

    Melt butter over medium heat in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir in the flour and whisk until mixture turns a deep golden hue, ~2 minutes. Add milk all at once and whisk constantly until mixture thickens and comes to a boil, 4-5 minutes. Stir in the salsa, then remove from heat and add cheese, stirring until it melts. Taste and season with salt.

    When the water has come to a boil, add pasta and cook until al dente (according to package directions). Drain and return to pot. Stir in the cheese sauce and then spoon into a serving dish or dishes.
    Sprinkle each dish with a bit of cilantro, if you like. You can also top it with some fried tortilla strips, for added crunch.

    You could transfer the macaroni and cheese to a buttered baking dish, top it with buttered bread crumbs, and bake 375° F until golden.

    adapted from Salsas That Cook by Rick Bayless
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    I am sharing this post with:
    IHCC theme: Salsas and Sauces
    Presto Pasta Nights hosted by creator Ruth at Once Upon a Feast this week.
    Rick Bayless @IHCC button rounded prestopastanights Tasty Tuesdays 33 shades of green TastyTuesdayBB hearthnsoul150 a little birdie told me rook no. 17

    Would you like to comment?

    1. Yummy and tempting macaroni cheese with salsa..

    2.  I could pull up a chair and dig right in.  This looks fantastic.

    3. definitely a great way to spike up the flavour of good old comfort food.

    4. Oh my goodness!  That looks SO good!  I love the addition of fried tortilla squares. :)  I was planning on making your favorite mac 'n cheese (which also happens to be my fave) for lunch later this week, but now I think I'm going to have to try this spicy version. :)  

    5. This is a mac&cheese for a real splurge! It would never make my Weight Watcher's meal plan, but for that occasional 'bad girl' evening ... yum!

    6. I LOVE macaroni & cheese! Have to try your version :)
      Pozdrawiam, Anula.

      P.S. Your blog is 'short listed' as one of my favourite ones, on my main page :)

    7. Thank you so much - that is so awesome to hear! =)

    8. Me encanta este plato, me llevo tú vresión

    9. Don't you just love that cast iron...perfect to cook with.  Your mac and cheese looks oooey gooey delish.

    10. Well you knew I'd love this one!  Great recipe Heather!  Why did I have to read this right before lunch????I'm STARVING.

    11. LOVE the chips on top of the mac & cheese and i just adore roasted salsas.

    12. lately i've been feeling like spice is absolutely necessary in mac and cheese to make the cheesiness taste that.much.better. I'm so glad to see you agree! This looks amazing!

    13. That mac you mentioned is still my fav!! adding salsa and tortillas chips to mac and cheese...oh you are my hero!!

    14. Oh my god! This looks so amazing! Im drooling :D

    15. Great idea to pair mac & cheese with the salsa and totally love the tortillas on the top!

    16. Natashya Kitchen PuppiesApril 18, 2012 at 9:29 AM

      What a great idea to pair salsa with mac and cheese! Looks delicious, I'd be very happy if you served that to me! 

    17. That is some gorgeous mac, Heather!  I love stirring salsa into my mac and cheese, but I never thought about adding in fried tortillas.  Delicious.

    18. Very interesting take on mac and cheese - I don't think I've ever seen a version like this before. I've have mac and cheese with tomatoes and with jalapenos and with garlic and onions, but never all together at once. I'm so impressed :)

    19. Wow, this looks so delicious! I almost made this! The one I've seen from Frontera has got no onions! I think I prefer this version, with onions! Yum!

    20. That is definitely a wonderful way to spice things up with Mac n Cheese.  Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.  Always a treat when you do.

    21. How creamy and delicious. I think your tortilla squares are the perfect topping! ;-)

    22. This sounds really scrumptious - I love the zesty flavours and the idea of adding the tortilla chips is right up my street! You've definitely taken macaroni and cheese to a wonderful new level with this recipe :-) 

    23. I made another salsa mac and cheese which was delicious but I forgot to get it up, in time, for last week. Yours looks like quite a treat with the spiciness (is that a word?) I will have to add that to my list.

    24. This is a mac and cheese I'd vote for.  And I love, love, love the tortillas on top!