Thursday, September 29, 2011

Southwestern Pasta & Cheese

Southwestern Pasta & Cheese

Prep:  40 minutes
Bake:  20 minutes
Serves:  6

3 1/3  Cups  uncooked Bow Tie Pasta
1  lb  Bulk Italian Sausage
1  medium  Red Bell Pepper
8  Green Onions, white and light-green parts only, chopped
1/4  Cup  Flour
1  teaspoon  Chili Powder
1  teaspoon  Chipolte Chili in Adobo Sauce (I buy a can, puree it in the blender and store it in the freezer--eliminates waste!)
1/2  teaspoon  Salt
1/2  teaspoon  Cumin

2 1/4  Cups  Milk
1  Cup  Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese, divided
4  Slices  Bacon, cooked and crumbled -OR- 3 Tablespoons Bacon Bits
2  Tablespoons  Fresh Cilantro, minced

Cook Pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook Italian Sausage until done; drain on paper towel and wipe out skillet.  Saute the Red Bell Pepper and the Green Onions in the same skillet until tender, adding 1 teaspoon Olive Oil if needed.  Stir in the Flour, Chili Powder, Chipotle Pepper, Salt and Cumin until blended.  Gradually stir in Milk.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Stir in 1/4-Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese.

Drain Pasta; toss with Sauce.  Stir in Italian Sausage, Bacon, and Cilantro.  Transfer to a greased 3-qt. baking dish.  Sprinkle with remaining 3/4-Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese.  Bake, uncovered, at 400* for 20-25 minutes, or until bubbly.

Adapted from Healthy Cooking, January-February 2009

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