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As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I recently received some Pace Picate Sauce.  This sauce is much smoother than salsa (but with a similar flavor), which makes it better for using in recipes than dipping with chips.  It brings a bright, zesty flavor that I thought would be very nice in a southwest-style mac ‘n’ cheese. 


This dish is easy to customize.  Use any color bell pepper you like.  If you don’t like beans, you can use another kind of protein, such as ground beef/turkey/chicken or grilled chicken breast.  If you want to spice up the heat level, add hot sauce, cayenne pepper, or cook a hot pepper along with the bell pepper.

img_4175-smallStovetop Southwest Mac ‘n’ Cheese


(Yield:  6-8 servings; this makes a huge skillet of mac ‘n’ cheese)


8 oz multigrain rotini pasta (or any pasta you like)

3 TB olive oil, divided

2 TB butter

1 medium-large onion, diced

1 large bell pepper, diced (I used green but you can use any color)

1 clove garlic, minced

2/3 c frozen corn

1 (15 oz) can black beans (or any beans you like)

1/4 c all-purpose flour

2 1/2 c reduced-fat milk

1/2 c Pace Picante Sauce (plus more for garnish if desired)

1 tsp each Worcestershire sauce* and Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp each cumin, chili powder, and salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

About 8 oz cheese, shredded (I used a combination of Sharp White Cheddar and Colby)

Minced fresh cilantro or parsley (optional, for garnish)

*Omit the Worcestershire sauce to make this vegetarian.


Cook the pasta to just under al dente according to the package directions and set aside (the pasta will finish cooking later in the sauce).


In a large skillet, heat 2 TB of oil over medium heat; add the onion and pepper and sauté until softened (about 6 to 8 minutes).  Add the garlic and frozen corn and sauté another 2 to 3 minutes, until the corn is thawed.  Stir in the black beans and shut off the heat for now.


In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter with the remaining 1 TB oil.  Whisk in the flour and let it cook for a minute or two.  Slowly whisk in the milk, then add the Pace Picante Sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper.  Let this mixture come up to a simmer (stirring frequently), then shut off the heat and whisk in the cheese. 


To the skillet of sautéed veggies, add the pasta and cheese sauce.  Stir to coat everything and cook on low heat for a couple minutes to heat everything up and finish cooking the pasta. 


Serve garnished with more Pace Picante Sauce on top, with a sprinkle of fresh minced cilantro or parsley. 



Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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  1. congrats on winning the contest — looking at this recipe i can totally see why! i want to make this NOW!! can’t wait to see the awesome party pix from the prize $$$ :)

  2. first of all, i love your blog mantra–everyday fare with extraordinary flair = genius.
    secondly, the only thing i’d change about this dish–the ONLY thing–is to use pepperjack cheese and lots of it. great creation, faith!

  3. love the idea!! mac and cheese my younger daughters favorite!! thanx faith!1

  4. I am craving mac and cheese!!!!That is is a delicious and and creamy version….love all the flavors :)

  5. That version looks delicious! So comforting!



  6. I love your new site!!! so pretty! and obviously your cooking skills are getting even better! OMG~~~ I’d love to try your meals one day! :)

  7. Faith, your blog is looking great! This recipe looks so good. It has a nice balance. My little girl (6) discovered she loved that Pace salsa in the Caymans…..I bet she would love this pasta….I know I would!

  8. wow i love the new layout girlie!!

    southwestern mac n cheese!!? YUMM!! love the addition of the beans!

  9. This must be the time of year for mac n cheese because I just posted a recipe for Fonduta Crab Mac n Cheese. I love the SW version you posted and must try it soon.

  10. What a great idea to make a southwest flavored mac ‘n’ cheese. I love it! So zesty and delicious!

  11. How creative…the mac looks wonderful!

    Love the new site! Took me a minute to figure it out..and continue reading to see that it was you : )

  12. Karyn Bernard (French Charming) says:

    Hi My Sweet Friend!

    Oh my…what a surprise! I love you new look and name…how exciting.

    I love mac and cheese and what an interesting spin you’ve put on it! It’s like mac and cheese for grown ups!

    Sorry I’ve been absent lately…life’s been crazy! Love to year sweet friend…have a great weekend!


  13. I guess the folks at Foodbuzz don’t like me. They are giving away Pace to everyone except me =(

    Anyway, cool new look! But I can’t see the header either. Technology is maddening at times.

  14. This sounds like an incredible combination of cuisines! My husband would love it :).

  15. I love this version of mac and cheese. I will take southwestern flavors any day. But especially when you add them to pasta. Great use of the Pace salsa! Truly good stuff.

    Your photos are so pretty!

  16. Beautiful new look over here! I can’t see your header though. It’s just solid gray.
    What a great recipe for your Pace! I love that pasta too!

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