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Gratineed Macaroni and Cheese with Tomatoes

Cooked au gratin, individual servings of macaroni and cheese with tomatoes and thyme-seasoned breadcrumbs taste anything but ordinary.

  • Servings: 8

Source: Martha Stewart Living, October 2004

Ingredients

  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for dish
  • 1 1/4 cups small pieces torn baguette or other crusty bread
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni or other short, tubular pasta
  • 1 quart milk
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese (about 1 pound)
  • 1 pound red and yellow tomatoes in all sizes, cut into 1-inch pieces if large or halved if small (cherry, grape, or pear)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13- inch baking dish or a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Melt 2 tablespoons butter, and pour over bread in a medium bowl; toss. Add 1 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; toss.

  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt. Cook pasta until just beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes (it will not be fully cooked). Drain and rinse.

  3. Heat milk in a saucepan over medium heat until warm. Heat remaining 5 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet or a pot over medium heat until foaming. Add flour; cook, whisking, 1 minute. Whisk in warm milk a little at a time. Cook, whisking constantly, until bubbling and thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove milk mixture from heat.

  4. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, remaining 2 teaspoons thyme, the nutmeg, and cheese to pan; stir until cheese is melted.

  5. Stir pasta and tomatoes into cheese sauce. Pour into buttered dish; sprinkle with bread topping. Bake until bubbling and golden, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Cook's Notes

You can use six two-cup gratin dishes to make individual servings. The baking time will be a bit shorter; look for the gratins to be bubbling and golden.

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