Mac & Cheese with Red Peppers & Tomatoes

  • Total: 1 hr
  • Prep: 30 min
  • Cook: 30 min
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Ingredients

1 pound ziti or penne pasta

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 clove garlic, crushed

21/2 cups fresh bread crumbs, preferably from sourdough bread

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme

6 ounces shredded sharp white Cheddar cheese (about 2 cups)

4 ounces shredded fontina cheese (about 11/3 cups)

3 ounces shredded smoked Gouda cheese (about 1 cup)

1 recipe hot Bechamel Sauce, recipe follows

10 sun dried tomatoes,

1 jarred roasted red pepper, seeded and diced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Bechamel:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

4 cups milk

1 sprig fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 sprig fresh thyme

1/2 bay leaf

1/2 onion studded with 1 clove

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Directions

  1. 1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. 2. Lightly butter a 9- by 13-inch casserole dish. Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil and generously salt. Add pasta and boil, stirring occasionally, until almost al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain pasta, transfer to a large bowl, and cool slightly. 
  3. 3. Melt butter with garlic clove in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add bread crumbs, parsley, and thyme and toss together. Remove garlic clove; set crumbs aside. 
  4. 4. Toss pasta with cheeses. Fold in bechamel sauce. Mix in tomatoes, red pepper, salt, and pepper. Transfer to prepared baking dish and scatter bread crumbs over top. Bake until sauce bubbles and crumbs crisp and brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving. 

Bechamel:

  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour with a wooden spoon and cook about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk and bring to a boil. Add parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and onion. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook, whisking occasionally, until sauce is thick, about 15 minutes. Remove herbs and onion and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, nutmeg, and pepper.

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