Pimiento Mac n’ Cheese

I love mac & cheese, any time of the year, for lunch or dinner, as a side or a main dish…must I go on?  There is something to be said about a giant bowl of carbs mixed with a heap of delicious cheese, right??  Well, when I saw the cover recipe in Bon Appetit’s March issue, I knew I had to eat that ASAP.  It was awesome!  Their southern spin on the classic was spot on.  The peppers gave it a nice spice, yet it was still super cheesy and delicious…this one comes highly recommended!
You will need:
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, halved
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
3 tablespoons butter (unsalted)
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup Peppadew peppers + 1 tablespoon of the brine (find at the olive bar in the produce section of stores)
1/4 teaspoon ground chili powder
1 1/2 cup packed shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup packed shredded mozzarella cheese
1 lb box shell pasta

Preheat oven to 400.  In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil.  Add in the red bell pepper and and 1 1/2 cloves of the garlic. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.  Start boiling your water for the pasta.  Cook for about 2 minutes less than box directions.

Meanwhile, quarter the peppadews and toss them in a food processor along withthe brine, 2 tablespoons of butter, ground chili powder and the last 1/2 clove of garlic.  Once the bell pepper is finished, dump the whole mixture (water included) into the food processor.  Blend for a few moments, then add in the shredded cheddar cheese and 1/4 cup of the parmesan.  Process all ingredients until smooth, then season with salt & pepper.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in your microwave.  In a small bowl, toss the panko with the (cooled) melted butter and 1/2 cup parmesan.  Once your pasta is done, drain it and then return to the pot.  Toss in the mixture from your food processor and the mozzarella cheese and maybe some more salt & pepper.  Stir well and then put into your baking dish. Sprinkle generously with the panko bread crumb mixture.

Bake for 25 minutes, let stand for 10 and then devour!

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