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Jalapeno Macaroni and Cheese

5 cups macaroni, rotini or fusili
3 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp dry mustard
3 cups homogenized milk
3 cups grated old cheddar cheese (about 3/4 lb/375 g)
1 Tbsp seeded and finely chopped fresh or canned jalapeno pepper

2 large ripe tomatoes
2 Tbsp finely chopped coriander or Italian parsley
2 tsp white vinegar, lemon or lime juice
1 large crushed garlic clove
1/2 tsp each of dried leaf oregano and ground cumin
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a full
rolling boil. Add the pasta and boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally,
until nearly cooked al dente, about 7 to 8 minutes. Drain well but
do not rinse. Set aside. Lightly grease a 12-cup (3L) casserole
dish. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan over
medium heat. Stir in the flour and mustard. Do not let the flour
brown. Gradually whisk in the milk. Continue stirring gently over
medium heat until the sauce thickens, about 6 minutes. Remove the
pan from the heat and stir in 2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese and the
jalapeno pepper. Stir until the cheese is completely melted. Taste
and add more jalapeno, if you wish.

Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and toss to evenly coat. Then,
turn the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with
remaining 1/2 cup cheese. (If making ahead, casserole can be
refrigerated at this point for up to a day before serving.) Bake
in the centre of the preheated oven for 40 - 45 minutes or until
the sauce is bubbly around the edges and the pasta is heated through.
Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes. Set aside with the coriander in a
medium-size bowl. Stir in the vinegar, garlic and seasonings.
Remove the baked pasta from the oven. Spoon some of the tomato
mixture with each serving. The baked casserole will keep well,
covered, in the refrigerator for several days or can be frozen.

Makes 6 servings


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