This Manchego Piquillo Pepper Mac ‘n’ Cheese is one glorious comfort food at it’s best!! It is prepared with Manchego cheese and piquillo peppers that are a harmonious match made in heaven!! Mascarpone cheese is added to produce a velvety texture while the Marcona almond gives it a nice crunchy crisp topping.
Robby and I went on vacation last week and we had a lot of fun. On our first day of vacation, we headed to Santa Barbara and stayed in a cute Airbnb close to town. The highlight of Santa Barbara was eating at one of our favorite pizza places, Olio’s Pizzaria. The next morning, we headed to Oceanside for a mini family reunion with Robby’s uncle Jimmy, cousin Richard, cousin’s wife Liana and their two sons James and Andrew. We stopped in Santa Monica on the way down to meet up with some friends for lunch at Lunetta, an unreal restaurant that our friend Rafael recently opened up. The food and atmosphere were utterly phenomenal!! I highly recommend it! After lunch, we headed to our Airbnb in Oceanside, which was right on the strand on the beach. We headed over to the cousins rental after we decompressed and we all contributed to making a Mexican feast. The week basically consisted of food, wine, beach and great conversation.
Robby and Richard have been digging through the history of their great-great grandfather and great-grandfather. It’s a long and crazy story. Robby has a ton of old photos that they have been using to piece together their family’s history. They learned a lot more after showing the photos to Uncle Jimmy. Jimmy and Robby’s dad lived in Capitola (10 minutes from our house) when they were ages 5 and 8 and Robby’s dad talked about it often. Robby has some old 8mm videos from the 60’s of Robby’s dad showing the house and neighborhood where they lived in Capitola. It’s pretty cool that we ended up living so close to where they had once lived.
While in Oceanside, we all drove up to Fallbrook to see if we could find the grave site where their great grandfather and grandmother were buried. Their great grandfather has no headstone so it took some digging to find it. (No pun intended) Robby and Richard are planning on buying a headstone for him. Their great grandmother’s death certificate says that she is buried there but the cemetery has no record of it. It’s all a bit crazy and there is so much more to the story.
I was also lucky enough to meet up with my friend Dwyane. We kicked back outside of our rental chatting it up and sipping on some wine. On our way out of town, Dwyane wanted to meet up with us so he could give us one of his paintings. I can’t even tell you how stoked I am because it is beautiful! It’s a wave with a whole lot of color and I absolutely love it!
Our last night was spent in Templeton near Paso Robles in a sweet little cabin with vineyards and cute grass-fed happy cows that were running around outside our window. This was a much-needed vacation for the both of us and now I feel refreshed and ready to be creative.
My preferred wines for this dish is a crisp white Rioja or a bubbly Cava.
Manchego Piquillo Pepper Mac ‘n’ Cheese Recipe:
8 to 10 servings
- 6 Tablespoons Butter
- 1/4 Cup +2 Tablespoons White Rice Flour
- 2 Cups Milk (I used 2%)
- 2 Cups Half and Half
- 3 Cups Manchego Cheese – finely shredded
- 4 oz Mascarpone Cheese
- 10 oz Jar Piquillo Peppers (sugar-free) reserve 2 – seeds removed – rinsed – roughly chopped
- 1 Tablespoon Sea Salt – or to taste
- 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1/2 Teaspoon Hot Paprika
- 1 Pound Brown Rice Elbow Macaroni
- 1/2 Cup Manchego – finely grated on top
- 1/2 Cup Marcona Almonds – ground
Rinse the piquillo peppers and remove the seeds. Dice the reserved three and set aside.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 4 minutes. You want it to be less than al dente because the pasta will continue to cook in the oven, drain and put into 3-quart gratin dish. Rinse well and set aside.
Place on the middle shelf and bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until it is golden and bubbly.
*You want to make sure to heat the milk slowly by adding a little at a time and the same goes for the cheese. This is a really important step so the sauce won’t break.
*If you aren’t into a mac ‘n’ cheese with texture, omit the ground almonds.
Piquillo peppers are a high source of fiber, Vitamins C, E, A, and B. The vitamin C content is as high as a citrus fruit. They improve the blood circulation and reduce high blood pressure. They also help reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol and promote healthy cholesterol.