Macaroni and Cheese with Zesty Tomatoes

  • Yield 8 servings

Start with a creamy béchamel sauce, add cheese and tomatoes, then bake until gloriously browned and bubbly.

Ingredients

Zesty Tomato Mixture:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium tomato, cored and chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Macaroni and Cheese Sauce:
1 pound uncooked pasta such as small shells or penned
Salt, to taste
Water for cooking pasta
1 tablespoon butter, margarine or soy margarine
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups 2-percent milk, warmed
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 cup shredded sharp low-fat cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded low-fat monterey jack cheese
1/2 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan or asiago cheese
2 slices sourdough or whole-wheat bread or 1 cup Ritz cracker crumbs

Instructions

  1. To make tomato mixture: Heat oil in a nonreactive skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, jalapeno, tomato and oregano and cook 2 minutes. Set aside.
  2. To make macaroni and sauce: Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Cook pasta in plenty of boiling salted water 5 to 6 minutes until tender but al dente. Drain and rinse immediately in ice cold water to stop cooking. Place pasta in a nonreactive large mixing bowl.
  4. Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add flour and combine well. Cook over low heat, stirring, 2 minutes until a roux or paste is formed. Add warmed milk, bay leaf, mustard and hot sauce; whisk to combine.
  5. Bring to a boil, continuing to stir well. Reduce heat to simmer and, stirring constantly, cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add cheeses. Stir for 1 minute until cheeses melt and sauce appears creamy and smooth. Pour over cooked pasta and mix well. Stir in tomato mixture. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
  6. If using bread slices for topping, process in a blender or a food processor fitted with metal blade until they make crumbs. Sprinkle casserole with bread or cracker crumbs and bake, uncovered, 25 minutes.

Want more help? Check out this step-by-step video on making béchamel sauce.

Watch the video

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