Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Poblano Mac and Cheese

The american southwest really has the best peppers.  You walk into a grocery store and instead of just one little bin of peppers you see a virtual rainbow row of them.  So many different types.  When we were driving across New Mexico we fell in love with the hatch green chili.  They roast them and dice them up and sell you these bins full of them for like $5.  Bliss.  We also came to love the deep green Poblano chili.  It's not exactly sweet, not spicy, just full of rich flavor.  (Cooking with them can be a pain because you have to get that think skin off for them to be truly delicate.)

Adding poblanos to the creamy melted cheese goodness of mac and cheese elevates your humble comfort food to something truly special.  Figuring out how to make this dish as healthy as possible is what makes me a genius.  Yes, I'm very humble.  But seriously, this one is very yummy.

First you need to prepare the peppers (2-3 large poblanos) - One way to do that is to put them under the broil of the oven for a few minutes on each side (not that peppers have sides, per se, but you get the idea) until they are charred.  Then, and this seems dangerous, slip them into a ziploc bag and seal it up.  Let them be all sauna-y in the bag for maybe 10-15 minutes and then take them out and peel as best you can.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  Set them aside once peeled.

Next you want to boil the pasta - I have been using those large curly-cues but any shape will do.  About 2 C dry pasta makes for 5 C cooked pasta.  Cook, drain,  and rinse the pasta with cold water.

While your pasta is cooking make a simple béchamel sauce.  This is the white milk sauce on those tasty croque monsieur sandwiches you get in France.  The simplest method is to melt 2T butter in a saucepan and then add 2T flour.  Cook that over medium heat until it seems like a paste.  Then add 1C of milk.  If you were in France and not on a diet you'd use whole milk, but I use not-fat milk and believe it or not it sets just fine.  It will seem very watery when you add the milk, but whisk it every so often and raise the heat a bit and in a few minutes you will have a bubbling creamy milk sauce.  It won't taste like much. (If you are making béchamel for real, you'd add some nutmeg.)  Add 1/2C of reduced fat mexican blend shredded cheese and a pinch of salt and even some chipotle if you like.  Set aside.

Now, mix your pasta and chopped poblanos into the béchamel.  Sprinkle a little more cheese on top and throw it into the oven until it's good and hot.  A serving is 1C.

9 weight watchers points per serving - 5 pasta, 2 béchamel, 2 cheese


  1. Why does sealing the peppers in a ziploc seem dangerous? Heat + plastic? You could probably put them in a glass container, anything that will trap the heat would work. Even a tin foil tent might do it.

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