As soon as I saw Rachael Ray make this pimiento macaroni and cheese on 30 Minute Meals a few months ago, I was sold. Even though I was born and bred in Ohio, I definitely have a Southern girl’s love of pimiento cheese. So the flavors of pimiento cheese spread, all mixed up in a creamy mac and cheese? Yes please!
I adapted the recipe in a couple of ways. I took the opportunity to add even more flavor (and give even more of a wink and a nudge to traditional pimiento cheese) by thickening the sauce with cream cheese rather than flour. I also stirred in some crushed up Ritz crackers just before serving (a la this ranch macaroni and cheese) to give the dish some texture. Everyone loved this, my boys included. I served it alongside meatloaf muffins, but it would make a great main dish all on its own.
Pimiento Macaroni and Cheese
adapted from Rachael Ray
1 pound elbow or shell macaroni
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and ground black pepper
1 8-ounce package cream cheese (reduced fat is fine), softened
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 3-ounce jars of pimientos, drained
1 cup butter crackers, coarsely crushed
1. Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring it up to a boil to cook the pasta. Once at a boil, add some salt and the pasta, and cook it just shy of al dente.
2. Heat a large pot over medium heat with EVOO and butter. Add the onions, garlic, salt and ground black pepper, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add cream cheese and whisk until melted and smooth. Whisk in milk and hot sauce and bring to a bubble. Turn off the heat, and stir in the cheese in a figure-eight motion until it's all melted.
3. When the pasta is done, drain it well and add it to the pot with the cheese sauce. Toss to combine. Fold in the drained pimientos and crackers. Heat through and serve.