September 15, 2014

Meatless Monday: Caprese Mac & Cheese

Caprese Mac & Cheese | Hard Parade
And suddenly...it feels like fall. As I'm writing this, I'm wearing JEANS and a SWEATER. Finally, all my thick, chunky knits, worn-out flannels, and wide-brimmed wool hats can come out of hibernation and take their place at the forefront of my closet. Fall is my absolute favorite season (winter coming in at a close second) and while this blog isn't going to suddenly become inundated with squash recipes and magically turn that burnt orange color so associated with autumn, I am thrilled for cooler weather, warming recipes, and the return of tights.

If it's on the menu, Dan the man will order a caprese salad in two seconds flat. He loves mozzarella - so much so that if we have a ball of it sitting in the fridge, waiting to be added onto a pizza, I will have to hide it so he doesn't bite into it ahead of schedule. When I found this recipe on Cooking Light, I knew there would be no complaining from his side of the kitchen. With a couple of tweaks and updates, we made it our own and dove head first into its delicious creaminess.

Caprese Mac & Cheese
Recipe modified from Cooking Light
Serves: 4, Serving Size: about 2 cups, PointsPlus: 10
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups grape/cherry tomatoes, halved (I like to get the variety pack)
  • 4 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 6-oz. uncooked farfalle (bowties! my favorite)
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 1 3/4 cup skim milk
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce
  • 3-oz. mozzarella cheese balls (Ciliegine size)
  • 1.5-oz. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup torn basil leaves
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 tbsp panko
Caprese Mac & Cheese | Hard Parade
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350f. Combine tomatoes and 2 teaspoons olive oil in a pan. Toss to coat and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to burst. 
While the tomatoes are roasting, cook pasta according to the package directions. Once cooked and drained, place in a large bowl. Set aside. 

Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil, swirling to coat. Sauté the garlic until it's fragrant. Stir in flour, add milk, salt and pepper, stirring with a whisk frequently to break apart the flour. Bring to a simmer, cooking until thickened (about 1 minute). Remove the pan from heat, stir in the cheeses and hot sauce until smooth. Pour cheese mixture into bowl with pasta, toss to combine. Add in tomatoes and torn basil. 

Spoon pasta mixture into a shallow baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle panko over the top and cook for another 25 minutes, or until panko is browned and cheese is bubbly. Divide among 4 bowls and garnish with basil leaves. Add more hot sauce if desired - no matter what kind of mac and cheese, I cannot get enough hot sauce on top. Enjoy!
Caprese Mac & Cheese | Hard Parade
Caprese Mac & Cheese | Hard Parade
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