Caprese Mac and Cheese

by Chef Randy

This is a nice stovetop twist on traditional mac and cheese. The addition of grape tomatoes goes nicely with the creamy mozzarella sauce and basil. Add a little Dijon mustard and a touch of paprika and you have a mouth-watering, rib-sticking combination that is hard to beat.

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons whole-wheat flour

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup milk 1 cup half and half

1¼ cups fresh mozzarella cheese (grated)

2 cups grape tomatoes (cut in half lengthwise)

½ cup fresh basil leaves (chopped)

5 to 6 ounces uncooked penne pasta

Additional paprika for garnish (if desired)

Directions:

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Stir in flour until smooth and bubbly. Let the roux cook for about 2 or 3 minutes to make sure the whole-wheat flour cooks thoroughly. Stir in mustard, paprika, salt, and pepper. Add milk and the half and half. Stir or whisk to incorporate. Continue stirring until sauce begins to thicken. Add cheese and continue to stir until cheese melts. Add grape tomatoes and basil. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta and fold into the sauce. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 10 to 12 minutes. To serve, transfer bubbly mac and cheese to a serving bowl and garnish with additional paprika. For a complete meal, add a salad with vinaigrette dressing of your choice.

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