caprese mac + cheese

I cook healthy most of the time. But sometimes, you just want to eat something rich, delectable and well just not that good for you! For me this week, it was mac and cheese. There is nothing like mac and cheese. Barefoot Contessa was making it this past week and I instantly had a craving for it! What I liked most about her recipe was the use of Gruyere and sharp cheddar cheese. For my recipe, I decided to use both cheeses Barefoot Contessa used, while adding the mix of Mexican cheese. I also used fat free milk {I couldn’t be totally unhealthy 😉 } and added tomatoes and basil to freshen up the dish. Happy cooking and enjoy! 
Caprese Mac + Cheese

1 pound pasta

1 quart milk {I used fat free in an effort to save some calories}

1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
8 ounces sharp Cheddar, grated
8 ounces shredded Mexican cheese {I used Sargento}
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes
10 basil leaves, chopped
1 cup panko

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Begin by cooking pasta according to the package directions; drain well when finished cooking. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, over low heat. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large pot.  Whisk in the flour and cooked for about 2 minutes. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for another 2 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove pot from the heat and add Gruyere, cheddar and Mexican cheese and pepper. Stir in the drained pasta. Add the tomatoes and fresh basil and stir to combine. Pour into a baking dish. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Combine butter with panko and sprinkle on top.  Bake for 35 minutes, or until the pasta begins to brown on top.

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