Serves 6 to 8

  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 pound sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded or cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 pound low-moisture mozzarella cheese, shredded or cut into small pieces
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni or other short pasta shape, such as penne
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, torn into small pieces
  • Shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and basil leaves, for garnish

    Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or any shallow 2-quart ovenproof dish.

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

    In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook to form a paste, about 2 minutes. Add the half-and-half and whisk constantly until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add half of the cheddar and low-moisture mozzarella. Stir gently until melted, returning the pot to low heat to melt completely if necessary.

    Add the macaroni to the boiling water and cook until barely cooked through. Drain the macaroni and return it to the pot. Add the cheese sauce. Stir in the remaining cheddar and low-moisture mozzarella; don't worry if the cheeses don't melt completely.

    Spread the macaroni in the prepared skillet or baking dish and bake until bubbling, about 25 minutes.

    Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the tomato puree, oregano, garlic and olive oil and season with salt. Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes, just until the flavors meld.

    Spread the tomato sauce on top of the macaroni and cheese, leaving a ½-inch border. Arrange the pieces of fresh mozzarella on top and bake until the fresh mozzarella is melted, 10 to 15 minutes longer.

    To serve, sprinkle shredded Parmesan on top and garnish with basil leaves.

    Reprinted from Great Tastes Copyright © 2017 by Danielle Kosann and Laura Kosann. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Aubrie Pick. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.

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