Spicy mac and cheese with simple salsa recipe
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- Pasta types
- Macaroni cheese
This creamy and comforting spicy mac and cheese with simple salsa is a lovely punchy version of just plain old mac and cheese. Perfect mid-week nosh.
Hertfordshire, England, UK
3 people made this
- For the salsa
- 200g cherry tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 1 small bunch fresh coriander, chopped
- 1 tablespoon jalepeno peppers, chopped
- For the pasta
- 400g macaroni pasta
- 1 tablespoon light flavoured oil
- 4 tablespoons onion, chopped
- 150g frozen peppers, defrosted
- 500g Tesco cheese sauce
- 2 tablespoons jalepeno peppers, chopped
- 200g cooked ham, torn
- 50g grated mature Cheddar cheese
MethodPrep:5min ›Cook:15min ›Ready in:20min
- To make the salsa, mix all of the ingredients with a tablespoon of the jalepeno brine.
- Cook the macaroni according to packet instructions. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a non stick frying pan over a high heat, add the onion and peppers and cook for 5 minutes until starting to soften and turn golden. Stir in the cheese sauce, jalepenos and the ham. Remove from the heat.
- Heat grill to hot. Drain pasta then stir into the sauce, transfer to an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with Cheddar cheese and grill for 5 minutes until golden. Serve with salsa.
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Spicy Macaroni and Cheese With Jalapeños and Prosciutto Recipe
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald
Ask Americans what they would eat for their last meal on earth, and most would likely tell you mac and cheese. Too bad restaurants and frozen-food purveyors start their macaroni and cheese with a base of cream and butter—a recipe for caloric calamity. This spicy mac and cheese is based on béchamel—butter, flour, and milk—which helps cut the calories in half. We add jalapeños and prosciutto for some spicy, smoky goodness feel free to leave them out though if you're not a spice fan.
Nutrition: 480 calories, 9 g fat (5 g saturated), 450 mg sodium
Instant Pot Pasta
Making pasta in the Instant Pot is the super-convenient, quick, and handsfree process for these reasons:
- Simply add the pasta, water, salt and walk away
- No more fear of foaming starchy pasta water spilling over your stove
- Love the starch water that helps make pasta creamy, no need to drain the hot water
Note: Not having to drain out the boiling hot water is important for me for 2 reasons. I feel it’s a safer method for my kids who often make pasta and is also safer for the elderly audience. Secondly, the starchy water makes for naturally creamy and flavorful pasta, and you need to add less cream or butter in the recipes.
Spicy Mexican Mac and Cheese
Mama Dalkin used to make us something similar to this while we were growing up in Arizona and if you’re a long time reader, you know she was all about quick and easy but delicious meals. It’s one of those dishes that you can whip up in no time and then spend MORE time hanging with friends saying “yes” to summer!! Let’s break it down shall we, plenty of onions and jalapeños to give it a flavorful base. Chipotle salsa to give it a hint of smokiness! Pickled jalapeños and green chiles for that zip. And 2 kinds of cheese for that extra gooey mac and cheesiness. And instead of bread crumbs on top, we’re getting crazy with TOSTITOS® tortilla chips on top.
I mean, why have we never done this before? Life is getting better by the minute since I started this! Could you imagine Tostitos tortilla chip crusted chicken schnitzel? Or Tostitos tortilla chip chicken on top of a taco salad. OMG. I can’t even imagine the goodness. It’s gotta happen soon. This of all the summer themed possibilities.
This Mexican Mac and Cheese is officially going on the regular rotation this summer! I mean, who wouldn’t want this alongside some grilled nachos or some poolside guacamole! Trust me, you won’t want to miss this!
Spicy Macaroni and Cheese
There are SO MANY THINGS to tell you today. First, yesterday was huge. If you like Life As A Strawberry on Facebook (which, um, you all should) you know that YESTERDAY I broke my record for most single-day page views! Over 1,300 people looked at my recipes yesterday, and I gotta say, numbers like that feel pretty.darn.good.
Granted, I have nothing to compare it to, and I’m sure most of the more well-established bloggers out there would trounce me numbers-wise, but still. NO RAIN will be found anywhere near my parade.
So I got to thinking – I should spend some time honoring the awesomeness that is macaroni and cheese. So, friends, I officially welcome you to the best idea I’ve ever had: THIS is MAC AND CHEESE WEEK. Get ready for five days of twists and turns on a classic. It will be excellent.
So, to kick it all off, let’s start with my classic recipe: spicy mac and cheese! It’s got a light kick and great flavor, and soon it’ll be a regular on your weeknight rotation.
Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese
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This mega creamy Lightened Up Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese is crazy flavorful infused with salsa verde, pepper jack and sharp cheddar and super easy to make! I’ve also included the option to add chicken, corn and zucchini for a complete meal all in one and on your table in under 30 minutes!
Happy National Pasta Day! Today I’m celebrating with this ridiculously delicious Lightened Up Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese because Mexican food + creamy pasta = my dreams come true. And hopefully yours too!
I loooooove Macaroni and Cheese from my Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese to Beefy Buffalo Mac and Cheese to my Million Dollar Macaroni and Cheese and I loooove salsa verde from my Homemade Salsa Verde to my Salsa Verde Chicken to my Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas. So why not combine my two loves and make Salsa Verde Macaroni and Cheese?!
I chose to make this Mac and Cheese a meal in one with the addition of chicken, zucchini and corn that sauté for a couple minutes with some salt and pepper. You can certainly leave the chicken and veggies out or swap out the veggies for whatever you have on hand. Ground beef would also be divine instead of chicken in this Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese.
The lightened up Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Sauce – that tastes anything but light – has only 2 tablespoons of butter and no heavy cream so you can feel a little less guilty about eating half the pan. And I ate almost half the pan.
The sauce has a nice kick thanks to the salsa verde and the pepper jack cheese, but shouldn’t be overly spicy for your kiddos. I add ancho chili pepper for even more of a kick and my husband loaded it with hot sauce but I recommend tasting the sauce before adding and heat because even without extra heat its packed with fiestalicious flavor!
To make the quick homemade cheese sauce, simply melt your butter in some olive oil and whisk in some flour, cook for 2 minutes then stir in your salsa verde, milk and evaporated milk. The evaporated milk helps create an incredibly silky sauce that’s not only lighter but doesn’t separate or curdle.
Next, stir in your Cheeses and your optional chicken and veggies and silkilicoius Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese is served!
Spicy Roasted Vegetable Macaroni and Cheese
Creamy, dreamy macaroni and cheese is my absolute favorite side dish, but I always feel like it needs a little pizzaz. Why mess with a good thing? I’ll tell you why… because you can plump it full of roasted veggies and make it healthier, more colorful and tastier than the old stand by. And hey, you can even make ‘em mini!
This recipe has no butter, either! You can make a quick, scrumptious cheese sauce with olive oil instead. Using olive oil drastically cuts the cholesterol and saturated fat content, while also enhancing the dish’s flavor.
With whole wheat pasta, creamy Sargento sharp cheddar, and a heap of hearty, crisp vegetables, this macaroni and cheese is mouthwateringly good. Make it as a side dish or a meatless dinner some weeknight! You can also toss in some cooked cut-up chicken, steak or shrimp for a filling all-in-one meal.
Oh, stringy cheese how you weaken my knees!
Kick it up with a little spice from cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes, and add some hot sauce to the finished dish if it’s still not scorching enough. This tasty mac also freezes well, so make it in advance or pop your leftovers in and enjoy them later.
As your pasta is cooking, heat up precooked sausages, such as chicken-basil, until warmed, according to package directions. Drain pasta, but don’t rinse it. Add pasta back to the pot, and stir in a few handfuls of baby spinach. The residual heat from the pasta will wilt the spinach. Then add in the cheese sauce, according to package directions. Serve sausages on the side, or slice them and mix into the pasta.
Make mac according to package instructions, and then mix in 1/2 to 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger and 1 tablespoon of Sriracha hot sauce, or to taste. Sprinkle with chopped green onions and panko for a delightfully crispy topping.
Get the Full (Printable) Best Southern Mac and Cheese Recipe Below!
Queso Mac and Cheese with Spicy Ground Beef
This queso mac and cheese is super easy to make, picky eater approved, and loaded with 27 grams of protein per serving thanks to a chipotle seasoned ground beef. Pair it with a side salad, roasted vegetables, or just an extra serving or two and everyone will be full and happy. And this dish reheats really well, making it a great recipe to double for meal prep!
I&rsquoll run you through the recipe below and cover ingredient substitutions as we go. You&rsquoll also find a printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Step 1: Cook Banza elbows or your choice of pasta in salted water.
Banza makes chickpea based pasta that&rsquos gluten free and a bit higher in protein. It is one of my go-to pasta substitutes, and I&rsquove used it in recipes like my pressure cooker chili mac, homemade Easy Mac, and cajun sausage pasta bake. That said, any pasta will work in this recipe.
Two tips for cooking the pasta for your queso mac and cheese:
- Cook the pasta for about 4-5 minutes and let the time in the queso ground beef finish it off. This will prevent overcooking the pasta.
- If you start the pasta right before cooking the beef, the timing should be perfect. If you for whatever reason get sidetracked and need to drain the pasta before the beef is ready, drizzle a little oil over the drained pasta to prevent sticking once it cools.
Step 2: Cook extra lean ground beef with a chipotle pepper spice blend.
I know you&rsquore wondering, so yes, you can probably skip the olive oil if you use a nonstick skillet. That would save some calories for more cheese to partially makeup for the lost flavor from cooking the beef and spices in oil.
The only other ingredient notes I have here would be on the white pepper and kosher salt. If all you have is black pepper on hand, that&rsquos perfectly fine. And if you&rsquore using table salt instead of kosher, cut the amount in half.
If you&rsquore new to my recipes and have never heard my spiel about allowing your ground beef to develop a crust before fully cooking, check out my sweet chili ground beef or hamburger steak recipes to learn more about cooking ground beef like a pro.
Step 3: Add hot sauce to the cooked ground beef.
Since the recipe calls for ground chipotle chili powder, it only makes sense to stick to the chipotle theme with hot sauce. But if you have trouble locating this blend of Cholula, any hot sauce will do. The hot sauce is in the recipe to both deglaze the pan (help you scrape off any crispy bits stuck to the pan) and add flavor. So keep it in!
If you wanted to really up the spice level, though, you could use canned chipotles in adobo like in my chipotle beef sweet potato nachos or milder diced green chiles like in my green chile mac and cheese with chicken.
Step 4: Add queso to the ground beef.
Trader Joe&rsquos queso is kind of a magical ingredient that has 165 calories per jar. If you&rsquore making a shopping run, you&rsquoll want to grab an extra jar for my queso mac and cheese with ground beef.
That said, you can use any jarred queso for your mac and cheese, but you&rsquoll need to adjust the nutrition information slightly. Also, there&rsquos always the option to make your own cheese sauce like in my chicken bacon ranch mac and cheese or cajun mac and cheese recipes.
Bonus tip: If you want extra cheesy queso mac and cheese, you could try extending the queso by mixing it with a bit of chicken broth like in my chicken fajita pasta bake.
Step 5: Add cooked pasta to the queso and ground beef.
Be gentle folding everything together. Even if you slightly under cook, sometimes chickpea pasta can be a delicate flower.
Step 6 (optional): Top with your choice of cheese and broil to melt.
In the photo above, you&rsquore looking at shaved cheddar with crushed chipotle pepper on top before broiling. The recipe calls for monterey jack, however, since it&rsquos much better for melting. You can skip this step, but it&rsquos a grate idea not to.
Well, that&rsquos it. In case I missed anything about this queso mac and cheese, you can ask a question in the comments below or join my free Facebook group to get some help from the 12,000+ home cooks there. And when you try this recipe, don&rsquot forget to come back and let me know how it turned out!