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