Meatless Monday: Fajita Mac ‘n Cheese

As I’ve been trying to incorporate a more veggie friendly diet, I’ve found quite a few delicious and wallet friendly meals along the way. This past Monday, in honor of “Meatless Monday,” I whipped up Fajita Mac ‘n Cheese from Naturally Ella‘s blog. I actually found the recipe from a cart I was following on KartMe, and as soon as I saw the word fajita combined with macaroni and cheese, I knew it had to be good.

Quite a few months ago I made a Buffalo Chicken Mac ‘n Cheese which was absolutely amazing. The only thing was that it was pretty time consuming, so I haven’t made it since. Since this recipe was meatless and had quite a few less ingredients, I figured it would be an acceptable Monday night dinner, especially since we had the luxury of not running (hello rest day!).

The recipe calls for fresno peppers, but I grabbed two jalapenos instead. It also notes queso fresco, but I used just a regular Mexican blend of cheese, and that worked well. The only other modification I made was adding some spices while sautéing the onions and peppers. It didn’t call for anything, so I added my usual arsenal of spices; chili powder, chipotle flavored taco seasoning, and spicy adobo. I also didn’t sauté the jalapenos with the onions and peppers, to try and keep some of the heat. I’m finally getting the hang of making roux-like sauces, and this cheese sauce had a perfect consistency! Slicing up some fresh avocado added a nice extra creamy touch as well.

As usual there was enough for lunch for both my fiancé and I, and we definitely made our co-workers jealous with our yummy re-heats. I’ll take that over a Lean Cuisine or Smart Ones any day!

Fajita Mac ‘n Cheese
– Serves 4 –

1 medium onion
1 green pepper
2 fresno peppers (or any other hot pepper you like)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup cilantro
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups queso fresco
1 cup cheddar cheese
8 ounces pasta
1 avocado and cilantro for topping

1. Pre-heat oven to 375˚.
2. Prepare pasta according to box and drain In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook peppers and onions until they begin to soften. Stir in cilantro and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Set aside.
3. In a small sauce pan, melt butter over medium low heat (be careful not to walk away- you don’t want browned butter.) Whisk in flour and salt/pepper- create what looks like a paste. Finally, whisk in milk and turn the heat up to medium. Continue to whisk, making sure you get the edges of the pan, until the mixture begins to thicken. The sauce should look slightly creamy. Remove from heat and stir in the queso fresco.
4. Mix pasta and veggies together in a 9 x 11 baking dish(or feel free to use whatever baking dish you have around.) Stir in cheese sauce and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven and top with avocado/cilantro.

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