Monday, May 23, 2011

Summer Series: Pimiento Mac and Cheese

Oh my heavens, I am in love with this recipe.  Ever since I got the March edition of Bon Appetit with this beautiful dish sitting resplendently on its cover, I knew I had to try it.  A dish that combines both mac and cheese and pimiento cheese-- two dishes that are great on their own? Well, yes please!   If you need a dish that will make a splash at your summer party then I suggest you try this puppy.

First, instead of using the typical little jar of red pimientos that one would understandably expect to be in pimiento mac and cheese (but I admit always look a little sad and scary), the marvels at Bon Appetit have you make a blended cheese sauce using steamed red peppers and Peppadew peppers along with extra sharp cheddar.  Peppadew peppers are beautiful little ruby red, silver dollar-sized peppers that can usually be found on the olive bar at your grocery store or deli.  My Kroger has an olive bar and I had no trouble finding them. Just make sure you ladle some of the brine along with the peppers into your container because you will need a small amount when you are making your sauce.  Peppadew peppers have a little bite to them and if you have any left over, they are good stuffed with goat or cream cheese and make nice little appetizers.

You will need a food processor or a good blender to make this recipe because you have to process the peppers and the cheese into a creamy sauce in which the pasta bakes.  I used my mini-chopper which worked fine and was large enough to accommodate all of the ingredients.

My husband and I adored this recipe and this will be made many more times in our house.  It was cheesy from the 3 kinds of cheese with a nice tang from the peppers, with a little heat that bit pleasantly at the back of your throat.  The original recipe called for ground ancho chilies but I didn't add them and I thought the recipe was perfect with out them. But, I've added it as an optional ingredient if that floats your boat.  Finally this recipe had a delicious crunchy topping of buttered panko breadcrumbs.  Sublime!

Pimiento Mac and Cheese
*Note: If you are making this for more than 5 people or bringing this to a large gathering, I would suggest doubling the amounts as this is not a big dish.

1 (7 to 8 oz.) red bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, halved divided
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
3 tbs unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup drained mild Peppadew peppers in brine, 1 tbs. brine reserved
1 1/4 cups (packed) coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup (packed) coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella
8 oz. medium shell pasta or gemelli
optional:  1/4 tsp. ground ancho chiles

Bring 1/2 cup water, bell pepper and 1 1/2 garlic cloves to boil in a small saucepan.  Cover; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pepper is soft, about 15 minutes.

Toast panko breadcrumbs in a skillet over medium heat until golden, stirring often, 5 to 6 minutes.  Transfer to bowl; cool to lukewarm.  Rub 1 tbs. butter into crumbs to coat.  Mix in 1/4 cup of Parmesan.

Transfer bell pepper mixture to processor.  Add Peppadews and 1 tbs. brine, 2 tbs. butter, ground chiles (if adding), and 1/2 garlic clove; then add cheddar and 1/4 cup Parmesan.  Blend until sauce is smooth; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Butter 8-cup baking dish.

Cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite.  Drain; return to pot. Stir sauce and mozzarella into pasta.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon pasta into dish.  Sprinkle with crumb topping.

Bake pasta until topping is crisp and sauce is bubbling, about 20-25 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes.

Adapted from Bon Appetit


  1. Hmm, making my own cheese sauce for this mac & cheese sounds interesting. I'll have to try it! Great post!

  2. I have dog eared this recipe as well! I've been waiting to try it after I moved and now that I have and you say it's just as amazing as I have suspected, I better get a move on! Looks so yummy!

  3. I need to make this mac and cheese ASAP! We're big fans of pimento cheese. Thanks for posting about it!

  4. Yummy!! This mac and cheese looks super delicious!I have been wanting to make this since I saw it in Bon Appetit a few months ago, now I have to give it a try! ;)

  5. WOW! You sold me with that top photo...this looks like a fabulous version of mac and cheese!

  6. Whoa, Ryan. You had me at pimento! What could be better?!...I didnt remember that the Bon Appetit cover was a pimento mac/cheese! Cannot wait to make this. *loving* this series! :)

  7. Ryan, this really sounds delicious. Pimento cheese lovers acroas the world will sing your praises. This is a very nice recipe. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  8. I saw this on BA too and I can't wait to give it a try!

  9. This looks and sounds wonderful, Ryan! I haven't had pimento cheese in so long and will have to try making it with the peppadews.

  10. What a beautiful color, I'll have to look for those peppers here :) xoxo

  11. Homemade pimento cheese sauce sounds amazing in a macaroni and cheese!

  12. Loving the twist .. I love mac and cheese and looks like I have all the ingredients you mentioned above :)

  13. A very interesting take on a classic! Me likey :-)

  14. Ryan - this has absolutely nothing to do with mac & cheese! I want to try one of your recipes for a memorial day BBQ we are going to. I'm in charge of dessert. Can't decide between Mexican Chocolate Pound cake, Raspberry Cream Cheese Brownies, Strawberry Pound cake, or the Cream cheese Brownies. HELP!!! If you were going to a cookout/pool party this weekend which would you make? They all look so good I can't decide. I'll look forward to hearing back from you - can you just hit the orange bee with a response? Please....

  15. Ryan, thank you for such a quick response. Think I'm leaning towards the bars as I have almost all those ingredients on hand but I'm so drawn to that glaze on the cake. Well, either way I know they 'll be delish. I'll let you know which I go with - or I'll blog about it next week - of course giving you credit for the recipe. Have a safe and relaxing holiday weekend.
    p.s. how have you gotten so many adds on your site? You're an awesome blogger, but besides that?

  16. Wow...amazing mac and cheese dish. This takes comfort food to a new level. ;)

  17. What an interesting twist on mac and cheese -- I would call it taking mac and cheese up two notches ..

  18. Ryan- This is sooooooo right up my alley girlie. Can't wait to try it out. I love mac & cheese and I grew up eating pimiento cheese spread, so I'm IN!! :)

  19. Hi Ryan- this is a belated but huge thank you for awarding Nana and I the "versatile blogger" award. We are just thrilled and amazed since starting the blog was a lark and only done to participate in FFwD. What an adventure it has been ! I have gotten more than one recipe off your blog and thank you for that as well ! PS- one of the reasons our thank you is so tardy is that I have done a ton of business travel out of state lately. It has included VA and I have hit the Willims Sonoma outlet in Leesburg every chance I can get. I leave with huge shopping bags (and surprises for Nana too) each time. Thanks again-

  20. Talk about taking mac and cheese to another level! This looks amazing!


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