Football season is in full force and when I prep food for our Sunday crew, it needs to be tasty, easy and comforting (and more and more, gluten-free). I like to mix it up on game day with some high/low options.
This recipe does fall completely in the low category- but hey, there’s always a crudités platter and some fine French chugging wine to wash it down. It is gluten-free, which adds a little cache. But really, it’s all about football— so make it, devour it and be sure to serve it with chicken wings and that fresh veggie platter.
I’m not a fan of the boxed macaroni and cheese. A “real” version is so quick and easy to make with just a few ingredients that you usually have on hand. On busy weeknights, I leave out the hatch peppers and make a batch of this for my kids— it’s a favorite.
Granted, American cheese may not even technically be cheese, but it melts so nicely, that you can forgo adding the flour of a traditional roux. This works to make a nice, creamy sauce that leaves the boxed version in its packet of powdered dust. The hatch pepper gives a spicy kick that brings to mind ball game nachos. What’s not to love?
Note: If you decide to use regular elbow macaroni pasta, a standard box is 16 oz., so you will only use half of the box. Can you believe they only give you half as much (in the same size box!) for the quinoa version?
Nacho Average Hatch Pepper Mac & Cheese (Gluten Free)
1 box (8 oz.) quinoa elbow macaroni
1 large hatch pepper or poblano, roasted—about 3 tablespoons, large dice (I leave this out when making for the kids).
8 slices American cheese (most American cheeses are gluten-free, but be sure to check the ingredient list)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup low fat milk
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Boil water for the quinoa macaroni. While the water is heating up, roast the hatch pepper until the skin is blistered. Rinse under cold water and remove the skin. Remove seeds and chop into a large dice.
Just let the pasta cook till al dente because it continues to cook in the colander, up thru the time when you mix it with the cheese sauce.
To make the sauce, unwrap the cheese slices and place them in the same pan that the pasta was cooking in (water drained out, of course). On medium heat, let the cheese begin to melt, stirring occasionally. After 2-3 minutes, add the milk and begin to whisk, now add the mozzarella. Don’t worry if the mixture is clumpy at first.
Continue to whisk till it thickens up and the sauce is smooth, if it seems too thick add a splash more of milk. Once the sauce is smooth, reduce the heat to low, add the hatch peppers if using, butter, Parmesan cheese and pasta. Stir with a wooden spoon till combined & serve immediately.