Saturday, June 20, 2009

Mexican Macaroni and "Cheese"

The weather was rainy and dreary much of the day. I wanted to make something that used a lot of vegetables and had a little heat. Spicy food brings to mind Sicilian or Mexican for me, and today I wanted something that was Mexican inspired.

This is a variation of my nacho cheese sauce that includes pasta, vegetables and beans. Both my husband and I like this sauce. It has a decided Mexican flavor that is remotely “cheesy”.

The different colored vegetables make certain that you get a variety of vitamin and minerals from this dish. Consuming beans, tomatoes, garlic, onions and turmeric have all been linked to a reduction in various cancers.

The overall nutritional values of this recipe are quite good. The calories are reasonable for the portion size, and the fat is quite low and the potassium is high. I also like that the dish includes a good amount of protein.

Mexican Macaroni and “Cheese”
Serves 5


1 cup of red kidney beans, soaked or quick soaked
4 cups of water

8 ounces of whole wheat pasta
4 quarts of water
1 tablespoon of kosher salt

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 zucchini, quartered length wise and sliced
1 cup of corn kernels
6 cloves of garlic, minced or grated (allow to stand off the heat 10 minutes to allow allicin to develop)
14 ounce can of diced tomatoes

½ cup of nutritional yeast flakes - to add a cheeselike umami
½ cup of whole wheat or sprouted whole wheat flour
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon of dried onion flakes
¼ teaspoon of turmeric
½ teaspoon of ancho chili powder
½ teaspoon of cumin seed
¾ teaspoon of kosher salt
1 tablespoon of hot crushed peppers (wet hots)

kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Cook the soaked kidney beans in four times the amount of water until soft. I cooked my beans for 30 minutes. Your cooking time will depend partly on the age of the dried beans.

Heat 4 quarts of water in a large pot until it boils. Add the kosher salt and cook the pasta until it is al dente.

Meanwhile cook the vegetables (olive oil through tomatoes) in the olive oil until tender. Be certain to use a large pan with a lid that is big enough to hold the sauce, vegetables and pasta. I used a 14-inch skillet with 3-inch sides that has a lid.

Place the sauce ingredients in a blender (nutritional yeast through hot crushed peppers) and puree until everything is combined.

Add the sauce ingredients to the vegetables and cook until the sauce thickens and the raw flour taste cooks out. This will happen in about 5 minutes.

When the pasta has cooked drain it and add it to the pan with the sauce and vegetables. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust to your taste.

Serve hot. You can add fresh chopped cilantro or parsely, if desired.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 414.69
Calories From Fat (11%) - 44.33

Total Fat - 5.07g
Saturated Fat - 0.53g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 1551.06mg
Potassium - 1374.51mg
Total Carbohydrates - 74.78g
Fiber - 12.94g
Sugar - 8.31g
Protein - 21.33g


This is a mild sauce that is suitable for those that aren’t big fans of heat. If I were making this only for my family, I would double the hot crushed peppers and increase the ancho chili powder. The sauce is a nice combination of flavors that also has good depth of flavor from the various ingredients. I like that the dish has protein from the beans and whole grain pasta and that it includes plenty of vegetables.

This pasta reheats well in the microwave if you are looking for something to pack for lunch.

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