“Everybody loves queso. This is like a queso pasta dish,” says Eli Huff, executive chef and culinary operations coordinator. Huff says using the tricolored tortilla chips adds color to the dish, making it more enticing for students—although he admits students already love mac and cheese. Huff discovered the chip trick when he was working in a restaurant and he ran out of tortilla strips. He substituted with the chips and it’s been working ever since.
8 oz. uncooked cavatappi pasta
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ cup diced yellow onions
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. chopped pickled jalapeños
2 tbsp. diced green chilies
½ cup tomato water
2 cups heavy cream
1 pinch chili powder
1 tbsp. juice only of chipotle peppers in adobo
1 cup shredded white queso cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
½ cup shredded pepper jack
½ cup crushed tricolor tortilla chips
1. Cook pasta according to package. Strain one minute before done to keep pasta al dente.
2. Heat saucepot and add olive oil, garlic and onion. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly brown.
3. Season with salt and pepper. Add jalapeños and green chilies. Cook for 2 minutes. Add tomato water and bring to a boil.
4. Turn heat to low and add heavy cream. Stir for 1 minute and add rest of seasoning, chipotle and cheese. Stir every couple of minutes until cheese is dissolved into milk.
5. Add cooked pasta and remove from heat. Place into casserole dish and sprinkle with crushed tortilla chips. Bake at 375°F for 10 to 15 minutes.
Recipe by Union Public Schools (Tulsa, Okla.)