Southwestern Pasta & Cheese
Prep: 30 minutes
Bake: 20 minutes
3 1/3 Cups Bow Tie Pasta
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
8 Green Onions, chopped
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 lb. Turkey Italian Sausage, sweet -OR- hot
1/4 Cup Flour
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
1 teaspoon minced Chipotle Chili in Adobo Sauce (I buy a can, puree it in the blender, and store it in the freezer)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
2 1/4 Cups Milk
1 Cup shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese, divided
1/4 Cup Real Bacon Bits -OR- 4 Bacon strips, cooked crisp and crumbled
2 Tablespoons minced Fresh Cilantro
Cook Pasta according to package directions.
In a large skillet, saute Bell Pepper, Green Onions, Garlic, and Italian Sausage in Olive Oil until meat is cooked through; drain off any fat. Stir in the Flour, Chili Powder, Chipotle Chili, 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 Cheese until melted.
Drain Pasta; toss with meat sauce. Stir in Bacon Bits and Cilantro. Transfer to a greased 2-qt. baking dish; sprinkle with remaining Cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 400* for 20-25 minutes, until bubbly.
400* sounds mighty hot, but it toasts the top layer of the Bow Ties--this chewy pasta is what the children all fight for! A fun twist to Macaroni & Cheese. Add more Chipotle Chili if you like things on the spicier side.
Adapted from Healthy Cooking