“Healthy-ish” Pimento Mac n’ Cheese
Mac n’ Cheese and healthy aren’t often mentioned in the same sentence but this version of Mac n’ Cheese is... healthy-ish. The sauce is blended with peppers and plenty of spice so you’ll never even know there are veggies in every serving. And the super flavorful sauce disguises the whole-wheat pasta so well that you’ll never know your mac is packed with protein and fiber.
1 pound whole-wheat elbow pasta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 1/2 cups extra-sharp yellow cheddar, shredded 1 roasted red pepper from a jar 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1 4-ounce jar pimento peppers, chopped 4 scallions, chopped 2 cups whole wheat pita chips, crushed 1/2 cup parmesan cheese Chives, for garnish
Preheat oven to 375°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt water liberally and cook the pasta 2 minutes shy of al dente; drain and return it to the pot. It’s ok if the pasta is a little under-cooked as it will continue to cook while it bakes.
In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted, whisk in flour and cook until it begins to smell nutty and fragrant, about 45-60 seconds. Whisk in milk and continue whisking vigorously until flour and butter have dissolved. Bring to sauce to a bubble and thicken, about 3-4 minutes. Once sauce is thick, remove from heat and mix in mustard and cheddar cheese. Stir until cheese is completely melted. Pour the cheese sauce into a blender and add roasted red pepper, paprika, cayenne and garlic powder. Blend until smooth. Add cheese sauce, chopped pimento peppers and scallions to the pot with the pasta and toss to coat. Pour into a large casserole dish and top with crushed pita chips and parmesan cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until the mac n cheese is brown and bubbly. Garnish with chives to serve.