Rachael's Pimiento Mac 'n' Cheese

When there's three kids in the house, guess what they want for their lunch! Mac 'n' Cheese of course! Two weeks of school holidays has started this week and my niece came over to stay for a couple of days. For their lunch today, I've given them a few choices to choose from. All three of them, my daughter, my son and my niece chose Mac 'n' Cheese. So Mac 'n' Cheese, it is!

This is from Rachael Ray's "Look + Cook". It is full of colourful photos  for every recipe (don't you love this?), and step-by step pictures that really calls out for "Look + Cook"! The meals pictured in this book are so gorgeously delicious! I read a lot of great reviews about this book, and when I saw Brenda from Brenda's Canadian Kitchen cooked up some delicious looking meals from this book, I knew that I really must take a peek into Look+Cook. One look into this book, I knew that it would follow me home! 

This is so yummy, the kids really enjoyed this. The addition of sweet paprika powder is really nice. Though the recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of hot sauce, I used maybe only 1/2 teaspoon as I was afraid that it might be too spicy for the kids. I cannot get any Pimiento, have not seen it before either, so I just substitute with one sweet red bell pepper.  It added a nice touch to this Mac 'n' Cheese.

Between the four of us, we finished everything! There was no leftovers! That good? How can it not be, look at that cheesy gooey cheese! 

This recipe is a keeper, and I know that it will be back in my kitchen again!

Pimiento Mac 'n' Cheese
(adapted from "Look+Cook" by Rachael Ray)
Serves 6
1 pound cavatappi pasta (hollow, fat corkscrew-shaped pasta) or pasta elbows
1 tablespoon EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sweet paprika, plus additional for garnish
2 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons hot sauce
3 cups grated sharp yellow cheddar cheese
2 (4-ounce) jars pimiento, drained (I used 1 sweet red bell pepper, chopped)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf or curly parsley

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and cook the pasta to just shy of al dente.
Heat a large pot over medium heat with the EVOO and butter. When the butter melts, add the onions, garlic, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook for another minute. Stir in the paprika. Whisk in the milk and hot sauce and bring up to a bubble, then cook to thicken for a minute or two. Turn off the heat and stir in half of the cheese in a figure-eight motion until melted. Add the pimientos. 
Preheat the broiler.
When the pasta is nearly al dente, drain it well and add it to the pot with the cheese sauce. Toss to combine. Then pour the pasta into a baking dish, top with the remaining cheese, and brown it under the broiler, 2 to 3 minutes. Garnish with the chopped parsley and a generous sprinkle of sweet paprika.

(my notes : if you are using sweet red bell pepper, saute them together with the onions and garlic).