Friday, July 12, 2013

Mac & Cheese Margherita

* 2 or 3 ripe plum tomatoes, halved, cored and seeded
* 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
* 2 tsp fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
* 2 tsp granulated sugar
* salt and black pepper to taste
* 1/2 pound pasta
* 1/4 cup unsalted butter
* 2 large shallots
* 2 tbsp AP flour
* 1/2 tsp dried oregano
* 2 cups whole milk, warmed
* 7 oz mozzarella, grated
* 2 oz Parmesan, grated
* 1/2 cup firmly packed chopped fresh basil
* 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs

1. Preheat oven to 425
2. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. 
3. Arrange the tomatoes cut side up in a rimmed baking sheet or baking pan.  Drizzle them with 2 tbsp of the olive oil, and then sprinkle them with the garlic, thyme, sugar, salt and pepper.  Roast the tomatoes for 20-25 minutes or until they are shriveled.  When cool enough to handle, remove and discard the peels and coarsely chop the tomatoes. Set aside.
4. Reduce the oven to 375.  Grease a 13 x 9 baking pan.
5. Heat the butter in a saucepan oven medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes.  Stir in the flour and oregano, and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute or until the mixture is bubbly and appears to have grown in volume. Increase the heat to medium and slowly whisk in the warm milk.  Bring to a boil, whisking frequently.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce for 2 minutes.
6. Add the mozzarella and half the Parmesan to the sauce, about a half cup at a time, stirring until the cheese melts before making another addition.  Pour the sauce over the drained pasta and stir well.
7. Fold in the tomatoes and basil, season to taste with salt and pepper, and pour the pasta into the baking pan.  Mix the breadcrumbs with the remaining olive oil and remaining Parmesan.  Sprinkle this over the pasta.
8. Bake the casserole for 25-30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the crumbs are golden brown.  Enjoy!

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