Lighter Macaroni and Cheese
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%) milk
- 8 ounces (about 2 1/4 cups) extra-sharp cheddar, grated
- 1 ounce (about 1/2 cup) Parmesan, freshly grated
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spread the 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 the tomatoes have softened, about 20 minutes. (Leave the oven on.)
Process the bread in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Melt 1 tablespoon butter with the remaining tablespoon oil in amedium skillet over medium heat. Add the 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 the pasta until almost al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Transfer to a large bowl; set aside.
Whisk 1/2 cup stock into the flour in a medium bowl; set aside. Melt the remaining tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the nutmeg, cayenne, remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the milk and remaining 1 1/2 cups stock. Whisk in the flour mixture. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Reduce to a simmer. Cook 8 minutes, whisking frequently. Add the cheeses; cook, stirring, until melted. Pour over the macaroni, stirring to combine.
Put eight 4 1/2 by 1 1/4-inch ramekins on a baking sheet. Put 2 tomato slices in the bottom of each ramekin. Divide the macaroni mixture evenly among the ramekins. Top each with a tomato slice. Sprinkle with the 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.
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