Every year that I grow peppers, the same thing happens. The whole summer will pass by and I’ll get one or two peppers from each plant. I’m disappointed, wondering what I did wrong, and I vow that I will never (never!) grow peppers again. Then fall starts and suddenly my pepper plants shoot up a foot or so and dozens of peppers appear overnight. Or, at least it seems like it’s overnight. Why does this happen?! Aren’t peppers supposed to love hot weather? Mine seem to prefer brisk mornings and rainy gray afternoons.
After spending some time in the garden last weekend, I realized that I had a problem on my hands–what the heck was I going to do with all the poblano peppers that were ready to harvest at the same time? I have a lot of sweet peppers too, but those are a little bit easier. With hot peppers, you can’t throw them all in a stir-fry or pile them onto a pizza. (Well, maybe you can, but I can’t! I like spicy, but not that spicy.)
My favorite way to use poblano peppers is in my Fresh Corn, Poblano, & Cheddar Pizza, but with corn out of season, that wasn’t going to work. I tossed around some ideas with my husband and as soon as the words “Roasted Poblano Mac & Cheese” left my mouth, nothing else interested him. So mac & cheese it was! (And with the remaining poblanos, well, I decided to roast them and pop them in the freezer. I think they might be a good addition to soups or baked potatoes.)
I considered adding tomatoes or zucchini or something else to veggie up this recipe a little bit since that’s usually my inclination with pasta, but mac & cheese is a dish best made simple. The poblanos add a slightly smoky kick to an otherwise traditional recipe. How much of a kick is up to you, though. Two peppers is pretty darn spicy, so if you prefer it a little milder, opt for one pepper.
Smoky roasted poblano peppers give this lighter version mac & cheese a spicy kick!
- 1-2 poblano peppers (use 1 if you want it a little bit milder)
- 2 1/2 c. milk (I used 1%)
- 1/4 c. flour
- 5 oz. shredded cheddar cheese, divided
- 4 oz. shredded Monterrey jack cheese, divided
- 6 c. cooked whole-wheat elbow macaroni (about 3 c.dry)
- oil mister or cooking spray
- 1/2 c. panko
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/8 tsp. salt (plus more, to taste)
- 1/8 tsp. pepper
- 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
- Turn on broiler. Place poblano peppers on a rimmed baking sheet and broil for about 10 minutes or until skin is blistered and starting to blacken, turning halfway through. Place peppers in zip-top bag for 5 minutes. Remove from bag and peel; discard stems, seeds and ribs. Chop peppers and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees.
- Combine milk and flour in a large saucepan over high heat, whisking constantly. Once mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened, 5-8 minutes, continuing to whisk frequently. Remove from heat. Add 4 ounces of cheddar cheese and 3 ounces of Monterrey jack cheese and whisk until melted. Stir in macaroni, poblano peppers, and salt to taste.
- Divide mac & cheese into 6 large ramekins or mini cocottes sprayed with oil or cooking spray (you can also use a casserole dish if you don't have ramekins). In a small bowl, stir together panko, olive oil, salt and pepper. Top ramekins with reserved cheese and then panko. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until panko is golden brown. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.