PEPPER CONFETTI MACARONI AND CHEESE
Note: To keep calories lower, use skim milk. From "Bold & Heathy Flavors," by Steven Raichlen.
• 8 oz. macaroni or rigatoni
• 1 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 large onion, finely chopped
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 red bell peppers
• 1 green bell pepper (or 2 ancho chiles for more spice)
• 1/4 c. flour
• 3 c. milk (see Note)
• 1 to 11/2 c. crumbled feta cheese (or other strong-flavored cheese)
• 2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill (or 1 tbsp. dried)
• 1 tbsp. Dijon-style mustard
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• Dash cayenne pepper
• Dash freshly grated nutmeg
• Vegetable spray oil
• 1/2 c. toasted bread crumbs
Bring 4 quarts lightly salted water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Cook macaroni until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain macaroni in a colander, rinse with cold water to cool, and drain well. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Meanwhile, prepare sauce: Heat olive oil in large sauté pan. Add onion, garlic and peppers, and cook over medium heat until vegetables are soft and aromatic, but not brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute more.
Stir in milk and bring to a boil, stirring steadily. Simmer sauce until thickened, about 1 minute. Stir in cheese, dill, mustard, salt and pepper, and cayenne and nutmeg to taste. Sauce should be highly seasoned.
Stir macaroni into sauce. Spoon mixture into a 9- by 13-inch (or slightly smaller) baking dish that you've slightly sprayed with oil. Sprinkle top with bread crumbs. Bake until bubbling and golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes.