We like to offer a fresh, crisp salad with something like this. Try our Tex-Mex standby, using mixed spring greens, a few very thin red onion slices, toasted pine nuts or sliced almonds, sliced strawberries or clementine segments and a light dressing, featuring balsamic vinegar.
2 cups (about 1/2 pound) elbow macaroni (the small ones)
2/3 cup bottled thick and chunky salsa verde (Mild or medium. We like medium. )
1 cup (packed) fresh cilantro leaves
2 cups (packed) coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup (packed) coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese, divided
5 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2/3 cup half and half
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/4 cups large corn chips
Additional bottled salsa verde or red salsa, garnish
Cook macaroni in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water to al dente (about 6 minutes). Stir occasionally. Drain.
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
In a food processor, combine salsa and cilantro. In a bowl, toss together 1 cup of the cheddar and 1/2 cup of the Monterey Jack cheese with the flour to coat.
In a large saucepan, over medium-high heat, stir together milk, half and half and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer, stirring. Add floured cheese mixture and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add cooked, drained macaroni. And some pepper, if you wish.
In a small bowl, combine remaining 1 cup cheddar and 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheeses.
Spray-coat the bottom of an 11x7-inch baking dish. Spread half the macaroni mixture in dish. Dollop on half the salsa/cilantro mixture. Sprinkle on half the cheddar/Jack cheese. Add remaining macaroni. Dollop on remaining salsa/cilantro. Top with corn chips. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar/Jack cheese mixture. Add just a few dabs of salsa verde or red salsa, for color.
Bake until heated through and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Makes 6 to 8 servings.