WE EAT | Caprese Mac & Cheese

Pasta anything sings to the tune of Jordan’s heart.  When meal planning I do my best to include it in the rotation 2-3 times a month, and it ends up being even more than that, because, well.. I’m a pasta lover at heart, too.  Usually the first place I go when I get a new Cooking Light magazine is their Dinner Tonight section.. They lay out a week’s worth of dinner menus, most of which will get made in the kitchen at some point.   In September’s issue (I’m a month behind in my magazine reading apparently..), I couldn’t help but notice the ease of their Meatless Monday Caprese Mac & Cheese.  Not to mention – it looked really yummy!
Did I tell you that it had the easiest ingredients list, ever?  
Most of these ingredients, I could bet, you already have on hand and/or are relatively inexpensive if you have to make a trip to the store.
I doubled the recipe called for because I definitely wanted leftovers, BUT – the sauce is rich and creamy (without all the calories of a traditional Alfredo- hello), so I left that just about the same.
Caprese Mac & Cheese
adapted from Cooking Light 
2 cups grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra vigin olive oil
1lbs whole wheat penne pasta (or any tube pasta you like)
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup fat free half and half
1 cup skim milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves
Cooking spray
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake**
Preheat broiler to high.
Combine tomatoes and 1 tablespoon olive oil on a foil lined baking pan. 
Broil 3 minutes or until tomatoes begin to break down.
Cook pasta in a large saucepan according to package directions, omit­ting salt and fat. Drain. Return pasta to pan.
Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add ­remaining tablespoon oil to pan; swirl. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Whisk in flour. Add half and half, milk, salt, and black pepper, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a simmer; cook 1 minute or until thickened and bubbly, stirring frequently. Remove pan from heat; stir in cheeses. Add cheese mixture to pasta; toss to combine. Stir in tomatoes and torn basil. Spoon pasta mixture into individual gratin dishes or an 8×8 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle panko, red pepper, and additional parmesan cheese, if desired, over pasta mixture. Broil 2 minutes or until panko is browned and cheese is bubbly. Garnish with basil leaves, if desired.
For Parker and Jolie’s portion, I spooned it out into bowls before I added the panko and red pepper.  Jolie can be weird with the texture of melted cheese – if she can’t pick it up piece by piece, and it comes together all at once because the cheese is holding it as a mass of pasta shells, she isn’t interested.  This was a new dish for all of us, and I’ve learned what works for them and what doesn’t, and didn’t want to run the risk of her refusing to eat all together – and I knew she’d love this because I actually think she loves pasta more that her daddy.
SO- no panko or red pepper for the babes.
We enjoyed this with a Massey House Salad
(Romaine, English cucumbers, dried cranberries or cherries, thinly sliced red onion, crumbled blue cheese, tossed in ranch dressing)
We have been eating this salad since we got married – literally.  Four or five years ago I started calling it the House Salad, and it stuck.

They’ve come to expect prayer before meal times, and at some point I’m going to catch it on video that round of applause Jesus gets after we thank him for our food.  Its my favorite part of the whole meal.
First bites.. and then seconds, thirds..  
 ..and of course.  A potty break.  Why is it that the moment we sit down and start eating there is a panic urge to potty right then.
 AND she’s back, and not letting a single bit of pasta go to waste.
 Another hit in this house – and I didn’t question it for a minute.  Pasta is pasta is pasta.


November 5, 2014

  1. Rebecca says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe! Made it last night for my 19-month-old twin girls and they positively gobbled it up. I made it with coconut milk instead of regular milk/half and half, and it turned out so creamy and delish.

  2. My mouth is watering…yes please! Adding this to our meal plan ASAP.