This mega creamy Lightened Up Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese is crazy flavorful infused with salsa verde, pepper jack and sharp cheddar and super easy to make! I’ve also included the option to add chicken, corn and zucchini for a complete meal all in one and on your table in under 30 minutes!
Happy National Pasta Day! Today I’m celebrating with this ridiculously delicious Lightened Up Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese because Mexican food + creamy pasta = my dreams come true. And hopefully yours too!
I loooooove Macaroni and Cheese from my Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese to Beefy Buffalo Mac and Cheese to my Million Dollar Macaroni and Cheese and I loooove salsa verde from my Homemade Salsa Verde to my Salsa Verde Chicken to my Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas. So why not combine my two loves and make Salsa Verde Macaroni and Cheese?!
I chose to make this Mac and Cheese a meal in one with the addition of chicken, zucchini and corn that sauté for a couple minutes with some salt and pepper. You can certainly leave the chicken and veggies out or swap out the veggies for whatever you have on hand. Ground beef would also be divine instead of chicken in this Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese.
The lightened up Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Sauce – that tastes anything but light – has only 2 tablespoons of butter and no heavy cream so you can feel a little less guilty about eating half the pan. And I ate almost half the pan.
The sauce has a nice kick thanks to the salsa verde and the pepper jack cheese, but shouldn’t be overly spicy for your kiddos. I add ancho chili pepper for even more of a kick and my husband loaded it with hot sauce but I recommend tasting the sauce before adding and heat because even without extra heat its packed with fiestalicious flavor!
To make the quick homemade cheese sauce, simply melt your butter in some olive oil and whisk in some flour, cook for 2 minutes then stir in your salsa verde, milk and evaporated milk. The evaporated milk helps create an incredibly silky sauce that’s not only lighter but doesn’t separate or curdle.
Next, stir in your Cheeses and your optional chicken and veggies and silkilicoius Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese is served!
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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com
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LOOKING FOR MORE RECIPES WITH SALSA VERDE?
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- Chicken in Coconut Mango Verde Sauce (READERS FAV!)
Looking for more Mexican recipes?
- (Lighter) Cheesy Taco Pasta
- One Skillet Mexican Chicken and Rice (with Jalapeno Ranch)
- Smothered Baked Chicken Burritos
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- Restaurant Style Mexican Rice
Salsa Verde Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese
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- 1 pound cellentani pasta (may sub rigatoni, penne or macaroni)
- 1 pound chicken breasts chopped into bite size pieces
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped zucchini
- 1 cup sweet corn
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup AP flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 cup Homemade Salsa Verde (or mild storebought Herdez)
- 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
- ½ teaspoon salt plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspon ground cumin
- 1 cup freshly grated Pepper Jack cheese
- 1 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ancho chili pepper, (optional)
- Hot sauce to taste (optional)
- Cook pasta in generously salted water just until al dente according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add chicken, season with ½ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper and cook just until the outside of the chicken is no longer pink. Add zucchini and corn and cook an additional 1-2 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked through and zucchini is crisp-tender. Remove to a plate and wipe out skillet.
- To the now empty skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat then whisk in flour. Cook, while stirring for 2 minutes. Turn heat to low then gradually whisk in milk, salsa verde evaporated milk, salt and cumin.
- Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, then reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally until thickened (but not overly thick). Remove from heat and stir in pepper jack cheese until melted followed by cheddar cheese until completely melted. Taste and add ancho chili powder if desired.
- Add pasta and toss until evenly coated. Add chicken/corn/zucchini and stir until evenly combined. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste and hot sauce if desired.
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