How do you take what, to me, is the consummate winter comfort food, and make it into a summer meal? Answer: tomatoes. I don’t think I would have ever thought to combine garden-fresh tomatoes with a hearty casserole like this, but Rufus’ Food & Spirits Guide has, once again, inspired me.
Take my old standby mac and cheese recipe, add a mouth-wateringly delicious heirloom tomato, a nice handful of basil from our backyard, and a little mozzarella and parmesan on top, and you have a perfect summer mac and cheese. Who knew?
The juice from the tomato mixes with the cheese sauce as it bakes, infusing the whole dish with tomato deliciousness in every bite. It truly is alchemy.
Roasted Tomato and Basil Macaroni and Cheese
Inspired by this recipe from Rufus’ Guide to Food and Spirits
2 cups dried macaroni*
2 cups milk (preferably whole)
2 Tbs flour
2 Tbs butter
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzerella
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 large tomato, thinly sliced
2 Tbs basil leaves, sliced into thin ribbons
Preheat the oven to 350°. Cook the macaroni according to package directions and drain.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium low heat. Add the flour and mix thoroughly to make a paste. Cook, stirring, until bubbly, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the milk, stirring to incorporate. Heat over medium low, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken, about 10 minutes.
Gradually stir the grated cheddar into the mixture, stirring to incorporate. Off the heat, fold in the cooked macaroni. Transfer to a casserole dish and spread evenly. Top with the tomato slices, sprinkle with the mozzarella and parmesan, and finish with the basil. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly. Turn on the broiler to finish, removing the dish when the cheese is slightly browned.
* I like to use whole wheat.