Jalapeno Popper Pasta is a cheesy, spicy dish where comfort food meets an appetizer favorite. This grown-up mac ‘n cheese dish is filled with tasty jalapeno peppers, topped with garlic breadcrumbs and is made a little lighter too!
While Mike and I were pretty sure we would enjoy Jalapeno Popper Pasta, because I mean really…between the cheese and garlic breadcrumbs and a nice kick from the jalapenos…it’s a safe assumption, right? Well, this is how it typically goes down when I want to photograph our dinner for the blog. I load up a plate for photos and head over to my photo spot. I tell Mike to go ahead and start without me, but he always says he wants to wait. (He might sneak a bite or two). Photos take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes depending on various factors, and then we eat! These photos didn’t take long, maybe 5 minutes. I went to the table, and Mike had already finished. He just smiled and went to load up for seconds. It’s that good!
- 8 ounces pasta (rotini, gemelli, or any other similar shape will work)
- ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2-3 jalapeno peppers, minced (to yield approx ¼ cup)
- 6 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, cut into 6 pieces
- 1 cup skim milk
- 1 cup Monterey jack cheese
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- salt and pepper, to taste
- COOK PASTA: Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente. Drain and set aside.
- MAKE BREADCRUMBS: Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium, nonstick skillet and add breadcrumbs and (1 clove) minced garlic. Stir frequently until breadcrumbs begin to brown and garlic is fragrant. Add a pinch of salt, remove from heat and set aside.
- MAKE SAUCE: In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook for about 5 minutes. Add peppers and cook for 3 minutes, or until onion and peppers are softened. Add garlic during the last minute, cooking until fragrant.
- Reduce heat to medium and add cream cheese to onion mixture. Stir until melted. Add milk, stirring until incorporated. Add cheese and chili powder and stir until melted and smooth.
- PUT IT TOGETHER: Remove sauce from heat. Add cooked pasta to sauce and toss until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- SERVE: Divide on serving plates and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of garlic breadcrumbs. Top with jalapeño rings for garnish (optional).
The past few months, I have been able to knock out several recipes from my bucket list with this challenge, and each of these recipes have become household staples. Gotta love a 3 year old who can’t get enough of roasted chickpeas (we go through 1 can every 1 to 2 days!)