Meatless Monday: Baked Macaroni and Pimento Cheese

Main Courses, Meatless, Pasta, Sides, Southern / Monday, December 17th, 2012

Mac-n-cheese? Delicious. Pimento cheese? Also delicious.

Putting two great things together doesn’t always work (see also: “If They Mated”), but in this case, it definitely does. Those red flecks of pimento add a sweetness that cuts through the richness of the cheese and really brings out its bite.

Grab a bowl for dinner tonight, and serve it as a side tomorrow. I’m thinking it would do amazing things next to a pork chop.

Baked Macaroni and Pimento Cheese

If you like your mac-n-cheese on the really creamy side, don’t bother baking it or adding the breadcrumbs. Just serve it straight from the mixing bowl.

Slightly adapted from “Southern Living 1,001 Ways to Cook Southern”

  • 1 (8-ounce) package elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (8-ounce) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimento, drained (you could also use roasted red pepper)
Topping (optional):
  • 1/2 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs or panko
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl. 
  3. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Gradually whisk in flour until smooth, cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute.
  4. Gradually whisk in 2 cups milk and next 3 ingredients; cook, whisking constantly, 3 to 5 minutes or until thickened. 
  5. Stir in Cheddar cheese and pimiento until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat, and stir in the pasta. 
  6. Pour macaroni mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish; do not chill. 
  7. If you want the breadcrumb topping, stir together the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl, and sprinkle over the pasta.
  8. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly. 
Southwestern Variation: Substitute green chiles for the pimento, and use pepper jack cheese. 
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