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- 1 7- to 8-ounce red bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 garlic cloves, halved, divided
- 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 3/4 cup drained mild Peppadew peppers in brine, 1 tablespoon brine reserved
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ancho chiles
- 1 1/4 cups (packed) coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup (packed) coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella
- 8 ounces medium shell pasta or gemelli
Bring 1/2 cup water, bell pepper, and 11/2 garlic cloves to boil in small saucepan. Cover; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pepper is soft, about 15 minutes.
Toast panko in skillet over medium-high heat until golden, stirring often, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to bowl; cool to lukewarm. Rub 1 tablespoon butter into crumbs to coat. Mix in 1/4 cup Parmesan.
Transfer bell pepper mixture to processor. Add Peppadews and 1 tablespoon brine, 2 tablespoons butter, ground chiles, and 1/2 garlic clove; then add cheddar and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Blend until sauce is smooth; season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter 8-cup baking dish (or 6 individual dishes). Cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain; return to pot. Stir sauce and mozzarella into pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon pasta into dish. Sprinkle with crumb topping.
Bake pasta until topping is crisp and sauce is bubbling, about 25 minutes (15 for individual). Let stand 10 minutes.