A basic Southern-style pimiento cheese spread is combined with macaroni and baked to perfection with a crunchy French fried onion topping. I add some onion powder to the cheese mixture, but a teaspoon or two of fresh grated onion can be added instead.
Add a dash of garlic powder to the dish or rub a split clove of garlic over the bottom and sides of the baking dish before buttering.
Use regular or gluten free macaroni in this easy casserole.
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 1 tbsp. salt (and more to taste)
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 jar (4 ounces) diced pimientos* (drained)
- 1 teaspoon onion powder (or 2 teaspoons grated onion)
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup French fried onions (crumbled)
Heat the oven to 350 F (180 C/Gas 4). Butter a 2 1/2- to 3-quart baking dish.
Bring a large pot of about 4 quarts of water to a boil over high heat. Add about 1 tablespoon of salt to the water. Add the macaroni, reduce the heat to medium, and continue boiling until al dente** following package directions. Drain the macaroni well.
In a bowl combine the mayonnaise, cream cheese, shredded cheese, drained pimientos, and grated onion.
Mix the ingredients together until thoroughly blended. Taste and add salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed. Add the hot drained macaroni and mix until well blended.
Spoon the macaroni and pimiento cheese mixture into the prepared baking dish.
Sprinkle the French fried onions over the casserole.
Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the macaroni and cheese mixture is hot and bubbling around the edges and the topping is lightly browned and crispy.
Serve with a simple tossed green salad or fresh sliced tomatoes, or serve it along with a holiday meal or Sunday dinner.
*Diced pimientos come in small jars, and they're located in the vegetable section of most supermarkets. If you can't find pimientos or need to substitute, use roasted red bell peppers. To roast red bell pepper or fresh red pimiento peppers, place them on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake them in a preheated 500 F oven for about 30 minutes, turning frequently until all sides are charred. Remove the pan to a rack and cover with foil. Let stand for about 30 minutes. Quarter the peppers, remove stems, peels, and seeds. Chop the peeled peppers or slice into strips. Refrigerate roasted red peppers in oil for up to 2 weeks.
**Al Dente: From the Italian, it means literally, "to the tooth." In the case of pasta, it means cooking it until it is still somewhat firm, or firm to the bite.
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