Thursday, May 19, 2005

Two-Pepper Rigatoni and Cheese

Two-Pepper Rigatoni and Cheese (Adapted from CL)

16 ounces (1 pound) dry rigatoni pasta
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
6 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) shredded fontina cheese
4 ounces (about 1 cup) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon finely chopped pickled jalapeño pepper
1/4 to 1/2 cup sliced green onions
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 slices (about 2 ounces) white bread, torn into pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, add pasta and cook according to package instructions for just short of an al dente result. Drain well and place pasta in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high. Stir in bell pepper - cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Scoop pepper into the bowl with the pasta.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in the pan, then stir in flour. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring mixture to a boil - cook, stirring, until beginning to thicken, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add cheeses, jalapeño, green onions and salt - stir until cheeses melt. Pour into the pasta, tossing well to coat. Scoop mixture into a 9" x 13" baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Add bread pieces to a food processor and pulse until coarse crumbs form.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter - drizzle over crumbs and season with an extra pinch of salt, tossing to combine. Scatter breadcrumb mixture over the pasta in the baking dish. Place into the oven and bake until heated through and browned, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly before servings.

Makes about 6 to 8 servings.

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