BLT Creamy Mac 'n' Cheese

November 2009
BLT Creamy Mac 'n' Cheese

by 18 people

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Makes: 6 servings

  • Salt
  • 1 pound ziti rigati pasta
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), for drizzling
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 leeks--trimmed, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 3 ounces bricks cream cheese, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded asiago, grana padano or parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 1 cup basil leaves, torn
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees . Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking water.
  2. While the pasta is working, in a large skillet, heat a drizzle of EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp at the edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the leeks and cook until softened, 3 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste for 1 minute. Stir in the cream cheese until melted. Stir in half of the shredded cheese, then the reserved pasta cooking water.
  3. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss. Pile into a casserole and top with the tomatoes and remaining shredded cheese. Bake until browned on top, 7 to 8 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, toss the arugula and basil with the lemon juice and a drizzle of EVOO. Serve on top of the pasta.