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Spicy Asiago Shrimp Mac and Cheese

When you need excitement in your foodie life, you have to make this Spicy Asiago Shrimp Mac and Cheese. It’s got layers of flavors with juicy, tender shrimp tossed in with a velvety Mac and Cheese roux that is subtle, yet has a little heat. It’s perfect for your vegetarian friends, but delicious enough even your meat-eaters will be fighting over seconds!

Because I know you love Mac and cheese be sure and check out our other cheesy options like Gouda Mac & Cheese and Taco Pasta for more exciting ways to turn up your comfort food favorite!!

baked Mac n cheese in a white serving dish

This year has been one for the books but the one thing that remains constant is our family’s love of food and sitting around the table enjoying each other’s company while eating a dinner together.

Everyone is easting at home A LOT more these days and I’m always looking for ways to give a twist on our favorites that I know everyone one will enjoy and not think we are eating the same food all of the time. Recipes like today’s- Spicy Asiago Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese is one of those that we like so much it’s now in our regular rotation!

I was super excited when I was asked to work with Creamette Pasta. It was an easy decision for me because I already had a fully stocked pantry with their pasta.

We love pasta and leveling up comfort food is something we do and share with you often so of course, the campaign was a no-brainer for me! I’m happy to partner with them to bring you today’s recipe with ways to use Creamette in a tried and true comfort food but with a new, bold flavor idea. All opinions, as always, are my own.

bog bowlful of shrimp pasta

Holiday Favorite– but more flavor

This year our Thanksgiving will be different– a little smaller than usual. I’m looking for some innovative recipes that pack a lot of flavor and don’t seem like the same old same old.

I love a traditional Thanksgiving but this year I want to make some memories with new food ideas.

We have several people at our holiday meal that are vegetarian and they always get stuck with a salad and green beans or things that are very plain.

Not this year?! I’m going to be serving this spicy Mac and cheese instead of our regular Mac — it’s loaded with so much shrimp I know they’ll have more than enough to fill them up and the pillowy sauce that is so full of flavor I know they are going to go back for seconds!

The best part— everyone else in my family LOVES shrimp and pasta so this recipe is one EVERYONE will love.

You’ll also love this creamy pasta recipe for a casual weeknight dinner and appreciate how fast it comes together and still have plenty of time to relax while it bakes in the oven.

I say casual, but I love that it’s special enough to serve to friends over for game night. Not boring at all, but not a lot of work to make something creative and delicious! Oh, and did I mention all made with wholesome ingredients? How’s that for a win-win.

To make things even easier I ordered the ingredients through Walmart’s OPD (Online Pick-up and Delivery.) It was super easy to use the app to place my order for everything, Creamette Pasta, blocks of asiago and cheddar cheese, milk, all the fresh ingredients of peppers and garlic along with the spices.

I drove up, let them know I was there and they hand carried out my order and placed it into my car. Talk about a time saver that I’ll really appreciate during the busy holiday season

Ingredients for spicy shrimp Mac and cheese

What to Shop For

  • Creamette Elbow Pasta
  • Shrimp
  • White Cheddar
  • Asiago Cheese
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Green Onions
  • Garlic
  • Milk
  • Flour
  • Butter
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Panko
  • Fresh Parsley

I used Creamette’s elbow pasta because it’s a classic and I knew the sauce would get into the crevices so each and every bite would be super saucy and cheesy. Feel free to use Shells, Cavatappi (spirals) or large elbow to make it your own.

The recipe calls for medium shrimp because I want big bites of shrimp in the macaroni. For Thanksgiving I may even buy a larger shrimp since its a special occasion, especially since there will probably be sales on shrimp so I will be able to get it very reasonably!

When buying the cheese, you’ll want to buy a block and shred your own. Pre-shredded cheese saves time, but there are anti-clumping additives in them and sometimes the cheese will get lumpy and not get totally creamy!

PRO TIPS
* Buy cheese blocks, shred yourself for the creamiest cheese sauce.
* Look for frozen shrimp on sale and stock up for the holidays.

Cooking Shrimp

  • Chop the vegetables to small bit sized pieces. You want the flavors of the garlic, sweet peppers and green onions but don’t want big huge pieces in each bite.
  • Use a Microplane to grate the garlic before cooking it helps spread it throughout without being overwhelming.
  • Make sure the pan is hot before adding the shrimp, and cook the vegetables and shrimp quickly while constantly stirring.
  • The shrimp will curl and turn opaque instead of clear when cooking. Be careful to not overcook- err on the side of undercooking slightly so when it bakes it can finish cooking while not being overdone and dried out.

Making Macaroni and Cheese Roux

A good creamy sauce starts with a roux. A roux is a flour/butter base sauce that you add milk and cheese to create a rich and creamy sauce.

When starting the roux, the trick is to melt the butter then sprinkle the flour over it. Whisk it so it combines and let it cook in the pan for a couple of minutes to really bring out the nuttiness of the flour.

Then slowly add the milk and stir to let it thicken. Get the sauce as thick as you want it before adding the cheeses in. Adding a little nutmeg, pepper, cayenne give it lots of added flavor to pair beautifully with the spicy shrimp.

Final Steps to Hearty, Delicious Pasta

After you’ve created the flavorful and velvety roux, you’ll add that along with the shrimp and stir to combine.

After adding it to a baking dish to get a crunchy topping you’ll want to mix Panko bread crumbs, cheese and olive oil in a small bowl before sprinkling it on the macaroni.

The olive oil helps give it a nice golden color when its baking in the oven and the cheese adds a nice cheese flavor to to the topping.

spooning out a serving of pasta

Common Questions you might have

I don’t have any Panko in my pantry is there a substitute? You can use stuffing mix, butter crackers, cornflake cereal or even bread crumbs. They will all add a nice crunchy topping to the rich and delicious macaroni and cheese.

Can I make this ahead of time for the holidays to take the pressure off on the big day? Absolutely this can be made ahead of time. You can make it several days (3-4) ahead of time then seal with plastic and store in the fridge.

When doing this, leave the topping off until just before you bake it. Remove it from the fridge one hour before you’re ready to bake to help take a little of the chill off of it.

You will have to bake it longer than 20 minutes to get it hot. Bake for 20 minutes covered with foil, remove the foil, add the topping and bake for another 15-20 minutes until it is hot throughout.

More Delicious Ideas for your favorite Creamette Pasta

Be sure and check out Creamette Pasta on Facebook and Instagram for more delicious pasta ideas!

Yield: 8

Spicy Asiago Shrimp Mac and Cheese

Spicy Asiago Shrimp Mac and Cheese

With the addition of crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper and cracked black pepper, this luscious mac and cheese with shrimp delivers nice layers of heat that will wake up your taste buds.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients

Pasta & Shrimp

  • 16 oz Creamettei® Elbow Pasta
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 1/4 Pound Medium Shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed (21-25 per pound)
  • 1/2 Pound Sweet Peppers (yellow, orange and red), chopped fine
  • 5 Green Onions, thinly slices
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, minced or grated on a zester
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika

Cheese Sauce

  • 3 Tablespoons Butter, unsalted
  • 3 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
  • 3 Cups 2 % Milk (Whole Milk ok)
  • 1 Teaspoon Black Pepper, Freshly cracked
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 Cup Asiago Cheese, Freshly Grated
  • 1 Cup White Cheddar Cheese, Freshly Grated

Crunchy Topping

  • 1/3 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley, minced

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F.
  2. Grease a 9 X 13-inch baking dish.
  3. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain reserving 1/4 cup pasta water.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Cook shrimp, green onions, sweet peppers, minced garlic, 1/4 tsp salt, red pepper flakes and smoked paprika for 3 to 5 minutes or until shrimp turn pink, curl and cooked through; remove from heat; set aside.
  5. Melt butter in a large skillet set on medium heat. Sprinkle in flour. Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth and well blended.
  6. Slowly pour in milk, while constantly stirring. Continue to stir and bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring constantly, for 8 to 10 minutes or until thickened slightly.
  7. Stir in pepper, remaining salt, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Remove sauce from heat. Stir in 1 cup Asiago and Cheddar until melted.
  8. Toss over pasta, add reserved pasta water and stir until well coated. Transfer to greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
  9. In a small bowl, mix together bread crumbs, Asiago and olive oil; sprinkle over pasta.
    Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden and bubbling.
    Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Notes

Grate your own cheese for best results. Pre grated cheese has anti-clumping agents added and may give you lumpy cheese sauce.

Serve with your favorite hot sauce for added flavor!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 422Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 188mgSodium: 1110mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 30g

This recipe was calculated using the exact brands and measurements I used to make this recipe. If you are following a strict diet please note changing anything will cause the nutritional info to change. Please calculate your own nutritional information if you want it exact to what you make and use my calculations as a guide only.

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MICHAELA KENKEL

Monday 9th of November 2020

I tried this recipe yesterday and my family FLIPPED! It's going into our regular rotation for SURE! We love anything with shrimp and that spice with the asigao cheese was just amazing!

Kathleen

Sunday 8th of November 2020

Such a great twist on a holiday (or anytime of year) favorite!!

Jeff

Thursday 5th of November 2020

What a great way to elevate a classic!

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