Thursday, April 3, 2014

Caprese Macaroni & Cheese

So, it's April.  How exactly did this happen?  What happened to March (and February for that matter)?  Someone once told me that time seems to go faster as you get older because a year is a smaller fraction of your life than it was when you are younger.  I now absolutely believe that is true. So, right, April.  Nearly every class assignment that I have this semester is due this month.  Of course, I started off the semester saying that I WAS NOT going to put everything off until the last minute.  I was going to work ahead.  Yeah...right.  

"What the heck have I been doing since January," I wonder?  Well some interesting things like cake decorating classes and writing this blog.  A few trips home and now trying to prepare for several weekends of family visiting us here.  And, to be honest, I like spending some time on Pinterest, Facebook, and my favorite blogs...

Which brings us to this recipe for Caprese Macaroni and Cheese, courtesy of my well-spent time browsing Pinterest.  I find it interesting--Pinterest.  You go through pinning things that maybe someday you will cook or make or buy (or maybe not), but then the real magic happens when other people start pinning something that you have pinned.  It doesn't even have to be something from my own blog or something that I have cooked, made or bought, but for some reason there is a bit of exhileration when you start getting those notifications that a bunch of people have pinned "your" pin.  Anyone else get excited about this, or am I just weird?  

In any case, Caprese Macaroni and Cheese (which got repinned quite a few times) was a recipe that I may have never made.  But, since it was so popular, I decided to give it a try.  Then I started making it, and I realized...I've done this before.  This recipe is actually an adaptation of my go-to macaroni and cheese recipe from Ina Garten, which is amazing on its own.  Add fresh mozzarella, basil, and a tomato base, and well, I'll just say this recipe should definitely be repinned!

Caprese Macaroni and Cheese
Makes 6-8 servings
Adapted from Simply Delicious

16 ounces cavatappi or other pasta of your choice
6 Tbs butter
1/2 cup flour
1 quart milk
8 ounces gruyere cheese, grated
2 ounces grated mozarella
1/2 cup basil pesto
1 15 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
6 fresh basil leaves
1 tsp sugar
1 ripe tomato, sliced
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cut into small pieces
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta to al dente.

Heat the milk (but do not boil).

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large sauce pan.  Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly (I love to use my flat whisk for this) for 2 minutes.  Add the warm milk, whisking constantly until the mixture begins to thicken (about 5 minutes).  Stir in the basil pesto.  Remove from heat and add the grated gruyere and mozzarella cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  

Add the pasta to the pan and mix to combine.  Set aside.

To make the tomato sauce layer, put the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, basal leaves, sugar, and 1 tsp salt in a blender.  Puree until smooth.  

In a 9x13 baking dish, spread the tomato sauce to cover the bottom of the pan.  Add half of the macaroni mixture.  Layer with the half of the fresh mozzarella.  Add the other half of the macaroni mixture and top with the remaining fresh mozarella cheese and tomato slices.

Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.  If top has not browned to your liking, put it under the broiler for 5 minutes, watching to make sure it does not burn.  

1 comment:

  1. I love mac and cheese, and throwing caprese into the mix sounds delicious! Yes, I definitely get excited about repins, althoughI have to admit that I'm the most excited when they are from my own blog ;)

    Thanks for sharing this with us at Saturday Night Fever! Hope to see you back this weekend!