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Lighter Macaroni and Cheese

Source: Martha Stewart Living
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  Serve 8
To wit, these individual mac-and-cheese casseroles call for pungent Parmesan and extra-sharp cheddar, which means the noodles get away with less-than-usual amounts of cheese. Low-fat milk, chicken stock, and olive oil keep the sauce creamy.
6 small vine-ripened tomatoes, (3-inch) , cut into twenty-four 1/4-inch-thick slices
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, plus sprigs for sprinkling
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
5 slices white sandwich bread, with crust
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound elbow macaroni
2 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 cups low-fat (1 percent) milk
8 ounces (about 2 1/4 cups) extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 ounce (about 1/2 cup) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Lighter Macaroni and Cheese Recipe at
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread tomatoes in a single layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle each sheet with 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until tomatoes have softened, about 20 minutes. (Leave oven on.)

Process bread in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with remaining tablespoon oil in amedium skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta. Cook pasta until almost al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, and run under cold water to stop cooking. Transfer to a large bowl; set aside.

Whisk 1/2 cup stock into the flour in a medium bowl; set aside. Melt remaining tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in nutmeg, cayenne, remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add milk and remaining 1 1/2 cups stock. Whisk in flour mixture. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Reduce to a simmer. Cook 8 minutes, whisking frequently. Add cheeses; cook, stirring, until melted. Pour over macaroni, stirring to combine.

Put eight 4 1/2-by-1 1/4-inch ramekins on a baking sheet. Put 2 tomato slices in bottom of each ramekin. Divide macaroni mixture evenly among ramekins. Top each with a tomato slice. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and thyme sprigs. Bake until bubbling and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Martha Stewart Living. All rights reserved.
Date Added: 08/10/2010
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