When I was a kid, I thumbed my nose at mac and cheese. In hindsight, I have no idea why since my mom always made it from scratch. Thankfully, I am not of the Kraft Cheese and Macaroni generation. If I had been, I suspect all that glassy looking “cheeze” would have dissuaded me from ever giving mac and cheese a second chance. And I admit only doing that after my mom ditched her original recipe and started making this one. It’s still a really traditional mac/cheese – I’m not swayed by designer versions with cauliflower or bacon or other sophisticated ingredients. It’s mac/cheese, after all: diner food, comfort food, whatever you want to call it. But the recipe does add one non-traditional topping – sliced tomatoes. You add them after you’ve assembled your cheese sauce and pasta, then top them with another layer of shredded cheese. They are decidedly unsophisticated, but add a layer of flavor that elevates it a notch the original. Sort of like upgrading from coach to business class. Not exactly first class seating, but noticeably roomier.
Cheesy Mac and Cheese w/baked Tomato
- 8 oz uncooked elbows or pasta of your choice (I like rigatoni)
- 1/4 c unsalted butter
- 1/4 c flour
- 2 1/2 c milk
- 2 1/2 c cheddar, shredded (I like a monterey/jack or cheddar/jack mix), reserve 1/2 c for top
- 1 tsp Worcestershire
- salt/pepper to taste
- Whole tomato, sliced
- 1 c shredded mozzarella
- Prepare noodles according to package directions and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Melt butter and blend in flour, stirring constantly. Stir in milk until thickened. DO NOT BOIL.
- Remove from heat and add 2 cups cheddar (or whatever mixture you choose), Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Mix well and pour over cooked macaroni.
- Add layer of tomato slices to top and cover with remaining shredded cheese.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes (I usually put it under the broiler for a few minutes after baking to brown the cheese on top. The crispy cheese is the best).