Price per serving: NY $1.30/1.69
Macaroni and cheese is arguably both the ultimate comfort food* and the ultimate budget food besides. You wouldn’t know it lately, however, as in recent years expensive “gourmet” versions have become trendy, chock full of eighteen kinds of expensive imported cheeses, loaded with pancetta, crimini mushrooms, and frizzled leeks, and even mounded with truffles.
This recipe gets back to what I consider to be the basics. When I was a kid, my mother always put a few tomato slices on top of her macaroni and cheese, which otherwise came straight out of the red-checkered Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. We always elbowed and jockeyed for the tomatoes, inspiring one memorable meal-time squabble that you already know the gist of if you've ever seen the “That caviar is a GARNISH!” scene in “You’ve Got Mail!” Are these tomatoes are good as caviar? You be the judge!
This version dramatically ups the quantity of tomatoes in my mother’s dish for two reasons: (1) increasing the fiber, vitamin, antioxidant, etc etc blah blah content of the dish and (2) decreasing fighting at the dinner table.
This recipe also deviates from tradition in one notable aspect by subbing out some of the cheese for chicken stock. The result is easier on both your wallet and your arteries, but is still creamy, cheesy and deeeeeeeelicious.
- 8 tomatoes (NY $4.77)
- 1 pound elbow macaroni (NY $1.49)
- 8 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated (NY $4.79)
- 2 cups chicken stock (NY $1.39)
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, freshy grated (staple or NY $2.80 for 5 oz)
- 2 cups milk, whatever kind you keep on hand (NY $0.60)
- 2 tbsps Parsley (staple or NY $0.99 for a bunch)
- Dash of Nutmeg (staple)
- Dash of Cayenne pepper (staple)
- 5 tbsps flour (staple)
- 1 ½ tsps. dried thyme (staple)**
- Salt (staple)
- Pepper (staple)
- 2 tbsps olive oil (staple)
- 2 tbsps butter (staple)
- Optional: breadcrumbs (staple)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice tomatoes about ¼ inch thick. Spread tomatoes in a single layer on baking sheets. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with 1 tsp. dried thyme, salt to taste and chopped fresh parsley. Grind black pepper over. Bake until tomatoes have softened, approx. 20 minutes. Remove, but do not turn off oven.
In a pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until just on the crunchy side of al dente, approx. 5 minutes (or per package directions). Drain in a colander, and run under cold water to stop cooking. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour into ½ cup chicken stock.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in nutmeg, cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, and additional salt to taste. Pour in milk and remaining chicken stock.
Whisk in flour mixture, and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and bring to a simmer. Continue cooking approx. 8 minutes, whisking frequently.
Add cheese and cook, stirring with spoon, until cheese has melted.
Turn off burner, pour macaroni into pot, and stir to combine.
Line bottom of a 9 x 13 glass dish with a single layer of cooked, sliced tomatoes. Scoop up any loose juices on the sheets and pour those in the dish too. Pour macaroni mixture over. Top with another layer of tomatoes. If using, sprinkle breadcrumbs across top to your taste.
Bake until bubbly*** and golden brown, approx. 30 minutes. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living
* And can’t we all use some comfort these days? The LBUH recently had what we thought was a good lead on a job. He met a cool woman at a networking event who was hiring, and seemed very impressed by him. She told him to call her on a certain day to set up a time for him to come in and meet some other people and discuss what kinds of things he could do for her company. He called her as requested and asked if she still had time to meet that week. The response? “Sure, I’ve got pretty much unlimited time to meet this week, because *I* just got laid off.” Just in case you’ve been living under a rock: its hard out there these days. And apparently even the uber-wealthy are asking for mac and cheese these days.
** This is also delicious with fresh thyme if you have some on hand.
***Don’t you just love that instruction? I’m tempted to use it in all my posts. Hmmm, maybe I will in the future . . . (Okay, FINE I’ll leave it out of any future fro yo recipes. Happy now? Party pooper.)
|Calories 257.4||Protein 10.8 g||Magnesium 7.5 %|
|Total Fat 14.1 g||Vitamin A 19.9 %||Manganese 13.3 %|
|Saturated Fat 7.1 g||Vitamin B-12 3.5 %||Niacin 11.7 %|
|Polyunsaturated Fat 0.9 g||Vitamin B-6 7.3 %||Pantothenic Acid 4.1 %|
|Monounsaturated Fat 5.2 g||Vitamin C 18.2 %||Phosphorus 19.2 %|
|Cholesterol 32.2 mg||Vitamin D 1.1 %||Riboflavin 13.7 %|
|Sodium 254.3 mg||Vitamin E 4.3 %||Selenium 24.0 %|
|Potassium 314.4 mg||Calcium 18.9 %||Thiamin 13.1 %|
|Total Carbohydrate 22.5 g||Copper 8.1 %||Zinc 8.0 %|
|Dietary Fiber 1.8 g||Folate 16.4 %|| |
|Sugars 1.1 g||Iron 8.6 %|| |