Salami, Spinach and Roasted Red Pepper Mac & Cheese
Not many dishes scream “comfort food” quite like macaroni and cheese. It has all of the requirements to be considered comfort food: Carbs, butter, cheese, and it’s warm and gooey. With the frigid temps we’ve been dealing with lately, all I have been craving are casseroles and soups and in particular – macaroni and cheese.
While I love a classic macaroni and cheese, I can’t help but jazz it up every once in awhile. Some of my favorite add-ins are caramelized onions with bacon, butternut squash with Gouda cheese, roasted veggies with goat cheese and buffalo sauce with blue cheese. These might sound strange but believe me – they’re delicious!
Today I have a new favorite kicked-up macaroni and cheese combination for you: Salami, roasted red pepper and spinach.
The salami and roasted red pepper add a ton of flavor to the macaroni and cheese, so I was happy I stuck with a somewhat mild white cheddar cheese to balance it out. I also added a few handfuls of spinach and as I was stirring it all together I realized what a pretty dish this would be for Christmas, with the green spinach and red roasted peppers.
To top it off, I sprinkled the macaroni and cheese with a combination of panko breadcrumbs and melted butter. This crunchy topping was just perfect with the creamy, cheesy pasta filling.
If you’re nervous about making macaroni and cheese from scratch – don’t be! Making a cheese sauce is really not difficult, but rather just involves some stirring and patience. I will give you one big tip though – add the milk SLOWLY! If you add it all at once, it won’t become incorporated with the butter and flour paste, which will leave you with a soupy and chunky mixture.
Other than that – you simply boil the pasta, sauté the salami and red pepper mixture, and throw it all in the oven. Just like that, you’re on your way to a meal of pure comfort.
Salami, Roasted Red Pepper, and Spinach Macaroni and Cheese
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni
- 12 ounces Red Table Meat Co. salami, cut into bite-sized pieces
- ½ cup roasted red peppers, diced
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups milk
- 2 ½ cups white cheddar cheese, shredded
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9×13" baking dish with cooking spray.
Heat medium pot of water over high heat and bring to boil. Cook pasta according to package, until al dente.
Meanwhile, heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add salami and cook until it begins to release its oils.
Add roasted red pepper and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and place on plate lined with paper towels to get rid of excess liquid/grease.
In large skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Season with salt. Add flour, stirring to create a roux. Let cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Slowly add milk, stirring constantly, so milk and flour become incorporated. Once all of the milk is added, stir in cheese until melted.
Combine cheese sauce with cooked macaroni, salami, red pepper, and spinach. Stir well to combine. Pour into prepared dish.
Combine panko bread crumbs and melted butter, stirring until combined. Sprinkle over macaroni and cheese.
Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, until cheese is bubbling.
If breadcrumbs are not golden, turn on broiler for 1-2 minutes, watching carefully so they do not burn.
Let sit for 5 minutes, then dig in!