Serious Eats: Recipes

Seriously Meatless: Southwest Mac and Cheese With a Cornbread Crust

Michael Natkin's vegetarian recipe blog, Herbivoracious, drops by most Wednesdays to expand our meatless repertoire.

[Photograph: Michael Natkin]

Macaroni and cheese is great to make for dinner parties that include kids. I like to make two batches: one with a simple and classic cheese sauce, and the other with big, bold flavors. Today's recipe is for a Southwestern version packed with three kinds of peppers (roasted poblano, Hatch, and red bell) and topped with cornbread crumbs instead of the standard breadcrumbs.

The three peppers are full of flavor but quite mild. If you want heat, add some jalapeƱo, serrano, or chipotle peppers packed in adobo. Another option is to offer hot sauce or pickled jalapenos on the side so each diner can customize the fire level.

It's best if the cornbread has had a day to dry out a bit before you make it into bread crumbs. So start by making my brown-butter cornbread a day in advance. Unless you have tremendous willpower and can restrain your immediate family, you might want to make a double batch because you'll need most of one batch for the mac and cheese.

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