This is my husband's favorite meal, ever. It is a spin on classic mac & cheese, and very simple to make! It also utilizes garden vegetables, which is perfect for this time of year. If you top it with fresh garden tomatoes too, you won't be disappointed. So dang good.
I got inspiration for this recipe many years ago after I went to Roosters restaurant on 25th street in Ogden. A dish I had there was very similar to this, and it gave me the idea to use pepper jack cheese in a pasta sauce, which I had never thought of before. The first time I made it myself, I had a bunch of garden vegetables sitting around too. I decided to saute them and add it to the top. It became and instant favorite.
It's a dish that I love making in the fall. I have made it so many times, but last night my husband said I made it the “best ever”. It may take a couple times of making it to get it just right! If you like pepper jack cheese even just a little, you will love this dish. This is a definite family favorite.
Here are the ingredients you'll need:
1 lb. bag or box of pasta (I would use penne, bowties, or elbows)
2 Chicken Breasts, browned and sliced
4 Tbs. Salted Butter
4 Tbs. Flour
1 1/2-2 Cups Milk (Whole or 2%)
8 oz. Chunk of Pepper Jack Cheese, shredded (I used Kroger Pepper Jack, which happens to be on sale this week for $0.99 each at Smith's!)
Any squash or zucchini you want to saute
1 medium onion
1 Red or orange bell pepper
Salt to taste
Cook the pasta as said on package and set aside. I usually always stir in olive oil in my pasta after it cooks, just so it doesn't stick together.
Slice or cube your vegetables the size you want them and saute in a couple tablespoons of olive oil or avocado oil over medium heat, until the onions start to look translucent and the other veggies are cooked. Set them aside.
Slice some chicken breasts, or use chicken tenders and brown to your liking. I top my pasta with the sauce, then veggies, then fresh tomatoes.
For the sauce, melt 4 Tbs. of butter in a stainless steel skillet on medium heat. Do not let it burn. When the butter is melted, add 4 tbs. of flour and briskly stir it in with a whisk, until the mixture is combined and bubbly. Quickly add 1 cup of milk. Stir briskly with a whisk until it starts to thicken, being careful to not let it burn. Add little bits of milk until it is the consistency you want. Take it off the heat, but keep the burner on. Stir in the shredded pepper jack cheese. This will thicken it more. (And just beware it's A LOT of cheese. But it's good, I promise.)
Put the sauce back on the heat and finish melting the cheese. Add milk if necessary to get it the consistency you want. Then, add salt to your liking and taste. I think I use around a teaspoon of salt. Maybe more? I then spoon over the pasta on individual plates and top with the sauted veggetables and fresh tomatoes. This is what it looks like when it's done. It's super yummy! Even my three boys, 8 and under, liked it.
Hope you like it. Let me know what you think if you give it a try!