Let's Get Popping!

Jalapeños get added to a lot of wonderful foods around my home. Sometimes I just fry them and we use them as garnishes or condiments for stuff like nachos or hot dogs. Other times, they get diced and added to soups or stews. We love stuffing them with creamy fillings, but sometimes there's not a lot of time for that. That's when taking those same flavors and applying them to a super-fast pasta dish is the way to go:

This dish takes about 20 minutes to make from start to finish -- maybe even less, if you are quick with pepper-dicing. It's one of those mid-week, set-your-tongue-on-fire dishes that makes my husband grin. I tend to up the heat because that's the way we like it, but if you stick to just the diced peppers, you will have a mildly spicy cheese sauce to enjoy over your pasta. Extra heat is for those slightly insane folks out there like me and my husband. For the record, he moves beyond slightly insane and enters mind-blowingly mad sometimes when it comes to spicy food.

What to have with this dish? I'd recommend something that isn't heavy or spicy. A salad would be great. I've sliced cucumbers and soaked them with a little salt and rice vinegar, too. A fruit salad might work, but I'd stick with savory dishes, personally. If you happen to have a bottle of dry white wine chilled, that would also be a lovely addition to the table. Enjoy the heat, despite the ever-cooling weather!

Jalapeño Popper Pasta

  • 16 oz. penne pasta
  • 1 T. butter, bacon fat, or olive oil
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers, finely diced
  • 8 oz. low fat cream cheese
  • 1 c. shredded cheese -- I opted for pepper jack
  • 1-2 teaspoons jalapeño powder -- optional
  • 1/4 c. half and half

Cook the pasta according to the package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, heat your chosen fat over medium-high heat in a skillet and sauté the diced pepper until it is softened. Add the cream cheese and cut it into small pieces to allow it to melt in the skillet. Add the shredded cheese, the additional jalapeño powder (if you want more heat), and the half and half. Stir well to combine and form a slightly thick cheese sauce. When the pasta has been drained, add it to the skillet and stir well to coat. Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

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