4-Cheese Caprese Mac and Cheese.
If there was ever a Monday dish to get excited over, this is SO it.
It’s mac and cheese, just fancied up a bit. BUT not fancied up so much that you’re just, “no”. You know what I mean? I feel like sometimes mac and cheese can be made way too fancy. To me, mac and cheese should be pretty simple and of course, loaded to the brim with good cheese.
That’s why I typically like to use a minimum of four cheeses. Always, always use a really good, really sharp cheddar… and then have fun with the rest.
Well, at least that’s my two cents.
My brothers are all about the simpler the better, and in the case of mac and cheese, I actually understand that.
That all said, I do think a little twist, just a simple one, can be SO good.
Like today’s 4-cheese caprese mac and cheese. I mean, how could caprese anything be bad?? Answer?? It just can’t. It’s tomatoes, cheese and basil…enough said. Caprese turned into mac and cheese?? Pure heaven.
You’re adding pasta, butter and basically doubling the cheese. Yes, yes, yes.
See, I told you, this is the kind of Monday food we all dream of.
And ok, it’s also the very last day in August. This means a few things.
…one: September first is tomorrow. I am both crazy excited (love fall!), and crazy scared (the summer just FLEW by, like Lightning McQueen speed!).
…two: September first is also a kind of big day for me. Again, excited and scared…but you will all see what I am talking about soon!
…three: with the end of August comes the most DELICIOUS end of summer tomatoes. This means caprese everything, tomatoes everything and corn, zucchini plus all the other summer produce. Take advantage of it while it is here!
So let’s talk about this mac and cheese. While, hold on a sec, I have to first say, I am still recovering from the events of Asher’s B-day yesterday, so please forgive me for my lack of words. I might just be wiped out for the rest of the week after the weekend we had.
That girl knows how to throw a party. Whoa baby.
Also, I am not making another cake, especially another three layer cake (I made ANOTHER one for her party) for at least a year…SO over cakes!!!
This mac and cheese though. Isn’t it kind of pretty? I just adore those roasted, butter heirloom tomatoes, my freaking favorite!
The recipe itself is really simple. It’s honestly just your basic mac and cheese (with cheddar, mozzarella, havarti and…BRIE!) with the addition of basil (in the form of pesto!!) and tomatoes. Simple, but oh so good.
It’s creamy, luscious and basically everything you could ever want in a mac and cheese. Trust me, if you make this, there’s not a chance on earth you will be disappointed.
Oh, and I do highly recommend trying to incorporate some heirloom tomatoes into the recipe, as they are so perfectly sweet and gorgeous right now. I really cannot get enough of them.
Double oh, how perfect would this mac and cheese be for your Labor Day feast next week? Perfect way to say goodbye to summer and hello to fall…right? Plus, plus… it also doubles as really great football food.
See, such a multi versatile dish. Win, win!
Caprese Mac and Cheese.
- 7 tablespoons butter divided
- 1 clove garlic minced or grated
- 1 cup crushed Ritz crackers
- 1 pound of your favorite short cut pasta
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups milk warm
- 1 1/4 cups sharp white cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded (add an extra 1/4 cup...if you want!)
- 1 1/4 cups havarti cheese shredded
- 4-6 ounces Brie rind removed and chopped (I surely used 6 ounces)
- 1/4 cup [homemade basil pesto | https://www.halfbakedharvest.com/20-minute-brown-butter-chunky-basil-pesto-pasta/] or store bought
- 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoons salt + pepper
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1-2 regular or heirloom tomatoes sliced
- fresh basil for serving
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray or lightly grease with oil.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until al-dente. You want it to have a bit of bite to it. It will finish cooking in the oven. Drain well.
- While the pasta boils add 3 tablespoons butter to a medium skillet and melt. Add the garlic and sauté 30 seconds then throw in the crushed crackers and toss to coat. Toast the crumbs for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Once the crumbs are lightly toasted remove form the heat and set aside.
- In the same pot you boiled the pasta, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let cook/bubble for 1 minute, stirring once or twice to avoid burning. Gradually whisk in the milk and raise the heat up to medium-high. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently until the sauce has thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in all of the cheese, pesto, mustard powder, cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir until the cheese is fully melted (if needed, return the pot to the heat to fully melt the cheese). Stir in the pasta + cherry tomatoes and transfer to the prepared baking dish. Evenly layer the sliced tomatoes on top of the pasta. Sprinkle on the toasted cracker crumbs and place the baking dish onto a baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the crumbs are golden brown and the sauce is bubbling. Remove from the oven and let site five minutes (yeah, right). Top with fresh basil. Dig in!!
I think I’ll just take a faceplant into that plate now. Yes, I do think that is the best idea I have had all day.