Jalapeno Popper Orzo Mac-n-Cheese

Total Time:
35 min
20 min
15 min

6 servings

  • Mac-n-Cheese:
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound orzo
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
  • 6 jalapeno peppers; 4 seeded and finely chopped, 2 sliced with seeds
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 cups panko
  • 2 Fresno chile peppers, sliced
  • Guac Salad:
  • 5 medium heirloom tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
  • 2 almost-ripe avocados, pitted, peeled and sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • EVOO, for drizzling
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • For the mac-n-cheese: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and cook the orzo until al dente, about 6 minutes; drain.

  • Meanwhile, heat 4 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped jalapenos, the garlic and onions and cook until the jalapenos and onions are soft, 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the milk and stir until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper. Add the Cheddar and cream cheese and stir until melted.

  • Combine the orzo with the sauce and transfer to a casserole dish.

  • Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter and toss with the panko to coat. Sprinkle over the casserole and top with the sliced jalapenos and Fresno chiles.

  • For the guac salad: Gently toss the tomatoes, avocados, jalapenos and onions on a serving platter. Drizzle with EVOO and lime juice, season with salt and pepper and top with the cilantro.

  • Divide the orzo mac-n-cheese among plates and serve with the guac salad.

  • Cook's Note: The orzo casserole (without the breadcrumb topping) can be covered and refrigerated for a make-ahead meal. Reheat in a moderate oven, and make the guac salad, before serving.

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