Sometimes you need comfort food, but in a grown up sort of fashion. Maybe it's because I have 4 kids and my food choices are all I really have control over most of the time when it comes to gourmet or fancy but every so often, I like to indulge in comfort food gone swanky.
Don't hate me, but I hate boxed Mac & Cheese. Yes, there have been more times than I would like to admit that in a pinch I have made a pot of the boxed stuff but only when I added a can of tuna and a lot of hot sauce (is that strange?) to make it a bit more palatable. Maybe I'm an alien... 'Roswell' ........ Get it?.. Hot sauce. Yeah, o.k. I watch lame t.v. series 10 years after they were (or weren't) in. Again, 4 kids people.
So, how do you turn mac n' cheese into gourmet? Well, I'll tell you. You turn to your ridiculously large stack of Cooking Light magazines! Plant yourself on your favorite comfy arm chair on a Sunday morning with a cup of coffee, expertly tuning out the kids, or better yet commission your loving husband to take them swimming for an hour so you can flip through old issues of your trusty menu planner and Voila! Mac and Cheese Gourmet!
I actually found this recipe for Baked 3 Cheese Macaroni in a Cooking Light magazine several years ago and have made it several times. Most recently for my 3 year old daughter, Mona Claire's birthday. I love the fontina, white cheddar and Parmesan Cheeses in here and the slow roasted tomatoes are just the tangy, sweet punch of flavor that I need to make me drool and feel a teensy bit gourmet if only for a moment.
Slow roasting your tomatoes are a perfect way to celebrate the end of tomato season. If you don't have the time, or extra tomatoes on hand, use a package of sun dried tomatoes instead. But trust me, slow roasting them brings out a flavor that you just can't replicate in a package.
adapted from a Cooking Light Magazine issue many many years ago.....
8 plum tomatoes (cut into 1/4" thick slices - ~ 2 lb)1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme3/4 t salt (divided)4 garlic cloves (thinly sliced)1 lb uncooked multi grain whole grain elbow macaroni (such as Barilla Plus) (or non-gluten macaroni, such as spelt or quinoa)1 tablespoon plus 1/2 c flour5 c milk1-1/2 c (6 oz) shredded extra sharp white cheddar cheese1 c (4 oz) shredded fontina cheese1/2 cup (2 oz) grated fresh Parmesean cheese1/2 t butter1/3 cup dry breadcrumbsfresh cracked pepper1/2 t paprika
Putting it All Together:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Cover a baking sheet w/cooking spray (or spread oil on). Arrange tomato slices in single layer on baking sheet. Drizzle oil over tomatoes. Sprinkle w/thyme, 1/4 t salt and garlic. Bake 35 min or til tomatoes start to dry out.
Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.
Place butter in large Dutch oven. Sprinkle in flour and whisk until combined and just golden brown. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Cook over medium heat 8 min or until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly. Add cheddar, fontina and remaining 1/2 t salt, and pepper, stirring until cheese melts.
Remove from heat. Stir in roasted tomatoes and pasta. Spoon into a 13x9" baking dish coated w/oil. Combine grated Parmesan, breadcrumbs, and paprika; sprinkle over pasta mixture. Bake 400°F., 25 min. or until bubbly.
Have a wonderful and Gourmet sort of day!!
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