There was this recipe for pimiento macaroni and cheese from Rachael Ray that I’d been meaning to try, but I couldn’t decide what to serve WITH it. THEN, I scored a deal on canned tuna, and it all came together. Some fresh, chopped peppers along with the onion and garlic added a little extra sumpin’ sumpin’; and home made French bread croutons on top made it dinner, along with a nice salad.
•1 lb pasta – Rachael called for cavatappi – a hollow, fat corkscrew shaped pasta; I used penne
•1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
•3 tbsp butter
•1 small onion, finely chopped
•1 red, yellow or orange pepper, chopped
•3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
•2 tbsp sweet paprika, plus additional for garnish – yes, I know this sounds like a LOT – but, trust me, it’s fine
•Salt and black pepper
•3 tbsp flour
•2 cups milk
•2 tsp hot sauce
•3 cups sharp yellow cheddar, grated – I used 2 cups of Monterrey jack, 1/2 cup smoked cheddar, and 1/2 cup mozzarella
•2 (4-oz) jars of pimientos, drained
•1 can tuna, drained
•1/4 cup flat or curly parsley, finely chopped
•Fresh croutons (optional, but a nice touch)
Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring it to a boil to cook the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta, salt the water well, and cook to just shy of al dente. Drain and set aside.
Heat a large pot over medium heat with olive oil and butter. When butter melts, add the onion, pepper, garlic, salt and pepper, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in paprika, then add the flour and cook a minute more. Whisk in milk and hot sauce, and bring up to a bubble. Let thicken a minute or two. Turn off the heat, and stir in half of the cheese in a figure-eight motion until melted.
Add the cooked pasta to the pot with the cheese sauce and toss to combine.
Fold in the drained pimentos, chopped parsley, and tuna; then pour into into baking dish and top with the remaining cheese, brown in the oven or under the broiler to melt the cheese, then toss on the croutons and return to the oven to crisp up a bit.
I served mine with sliced fresh tomato on top, and some more parsley on the side. YUMMO, indeed.