Mac and cheese just got a flavorful makeover that’s got heads turning. This Tex-Mex twist on a classic is all about Southwestern flair: lightly charred poblano, roasted garlic, diced tomato, and 4 kinds of cheese (you read that right!) add serious oomph to the creamy sauce. This super savory melange coats corkscrew cavatappi for an extra-hearty experience. For a finishing touch, everything is sprinkled with a layer of crispy panko. It’s almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.
Produced in a facility that processes milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybean.
Southwest Spice Blend
Cream Sauce Base(ContainsMilk)
Pepper Jack Cheese(ContainsMilk)
Monterey Jack Cheese(ContainsMilk)
Mexican Cheese Blend(ContainsMilk)
Adjust rack to top position and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil (use a large pot for 4 servings). Wash and dry all produce. Halve poblano lengthwise; remove stem and seeds. Dice tomato. Place garlic cloves on a small piece of foil; drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cinch into a packet.
Place poblano halves cut sides down on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Place garlic foil packet on same sheet. Roast on top rack until poblano is tender and lightly blistered and garlic is softened, 15-17 minutes. Remove from oven. Once cool enough to handle, transfer everything to a cutting board. Dice poblano. Mash garlic with a fork. Heat broiler to high or oven to 500 degrees.
Once water is boiling, add cavatappi to pot. Cook until al dente, 9-11 minutes. Reserve ¾ cup pasta cooking water, then drain. Meanwhile, place 1 TBSP butter (2 TBSP for 4 servings) in a small bowl; microwave until melted, 30 seconds. Stir in panko and half the Southwest Spice (you’ll use the rest later). Season with salt and pepper.
Heat pot used for cavatappi over medium heat. Cut top off carton of cream sauce base to open fully; pour contents into pot. Using a spoon or spatula, scrape any remaining sauce from carton into pot. Add cream cheese and remaining Southwest Spice; bring to a simmer, whisking, until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and whisk in pepper jack, Monterey Jack, and Mexican cheese until melted and smooth.
Stir cavatappi, mashed garlic, diced poblano, and tomato into pot with cheese sauce. If needed, stir in reserved pasta cooking water a splash at a time until cavatappi is coated in a creamy sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer mac & cheese to an 8-by- 8-inch baking dish (for 4 servings, use a 9-by-13-inch baking dish). Sprinkle with seasoned panko; broil or bake on top rack until panko is browned and crispy, 2-3 minutes. Divide between plates or serve directly from dish.