Caprese Mac and Cheese
When you have kids, you probably eat an awful lot of mac and cheese. Well, we do anyway. And though I love mac and cheese (like, really love), there’s only so many times I can eat it before I get tired of it. Thus, I am forced to come up with interesting flavour additions to make this family staple a bit more interesting. Not only for us adults but also for the kids. I want them to be exposed to more than just carbs and cheese.
I’ve added tomato slices to my mac and cheese for a really long time and wanted to amp it up a notch and since I have a big batch of home-made basil pesto in the fridge, I thought it a good idea to add a few dollops. And it was! It was also clear that I was on the path to Caprese deliciousness and decided to add some milky, luscious fior di latte which turned this mac and cheese into something rather special. All in all, this is a fabulous mac and cheese which is great for weeknight dinners but also something I will happily serve to guests.
- 100g butter
- ½ cup flour
- 1 litre milk, warmed with 1 bay leaf, ½ onion and 5 black peppercorns
- pinch of nutmeg
- 150g gruyere/ other strong, mature cheese, grated
- salt & white pepper to taste
- 400g tin whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 500g pasta of your choice (I used a spiral shaped tube), cooked + 1 cup of cooking water reserved
- 8 ripe tomatoes, sliced into ½ cm slices
- ½ cup basil pesto
- 150g fior di latte (or other mozzarella of your choice)
- To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan then add the flour and whisk to make a roux.
- Slowly whisk in the milk until it has been fully incorporated.
- Turn the heat down, add the nutmeg and allow the sauce to simmer gently for 10 minutes.
- Turn down the heat then add the cheese, salt and pepper and stir until the cheese has melted.
- Mix the sauce with the pasta and add a little of the cooking water should the sauce be too thick.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°c.
- To make the tomato layer, add the salt and sugar to the tomatoes and blend with a stick blender until smooth. Pour in the bottom of an oven-proof dish.
- Place half of the pasta in the dish on top of the tomatoes then top with half of the tomato slices and cheese. Dollop on the basil pesto.
- Top with the remaining pasta.
- Top with the remaining tomatoes and cheese then place in the oven.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until the tomatoes are roasted slightly and the cheese has melted and is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.