Spicy Macaroni and Cheese with Tomatoes and Cracker Crumb Crust

  • Yield 6 servings

This classic is made the old-fashioned way by first making a bechamel or cream sauce.


Macaroni and Cheese Mixture:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 large jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup flour
2 cups 2 percent milk, warmed
2 cups canned diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups low-fat shredded cheddar and monterey jack cheese mixture
1 pound penne, elbows or rigatoni pasta, cooked and drained well
Cracker Crumb Crust:
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup crushed Ritz crackers or similar crackers
2 teaspoons paprika


  1. To make macaroni and cheese: Preheat oven to 350F. Melt butter in a nonreactive large saucepan; add onions and jalapeno peppers. Saute 2 to 3 minutes, or until onions are soft. Mix in flour and cook over medium heat 1 minute, stirring constantly. Using a wire whisk, slowly incorporate milk into onion mixture until well blended. Stir in tomatoes, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese, blending until well mixed. Mix sauce and cooked pasta in a large mixing bowl. Place in a greased 9-inch square baking dish.
  2. To make crust: In a small bowl, mix parmesan with cracker crumbs and paprika. Sprinkle over pasta. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until crumb topping is golden brown.