What better way to do the last Mac of the Month of summer than caprese mac and cheese?!
A caprese salad is one of those foods that makes me think of summer (not to mention how good tomatoes are right now!), so incorporating all of those things into a mac and cheese recipe seemed like a natural choice.
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I tried to keep this as close to a basic caprese salad as possible...but made just a few little adjustments to help it live up to "the best mac and cheese you've ever had."
So, while it does have the classic ingredients of a caprese salad (fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella!), it also has noodles, butter, flour, white cheddar, milk, cream, and a bit of garlic.
What I love about caprese mac and cheese
- This mac and cheese doesn't require baking so it's ready in less than half an hour.
- I love that the bright tomatoes and basil add some color to an otherwise totally white dish and make it look so pretty.
- The moisture in the mozzarella and the stretchiness makes the end result sooooo creamy!
- I used shells because I love that they hold so much of the sauce and with a sauce this creamy, you'll want as much in every bite as possible.
- As I do in every mac of the month post, I want to stress how important it is to shred your own cheese for mac and cheese instead of buying pre-shredded cheese. I wrote a lot more about how shredding your own cheese will make better mac and cheese here.
- Don't add your cheese until after the heat is turned off on your stove top. When you add the cheese when the heat is still on, it can make the cheese stringy. The remaining heat in the roux will be enough to melt the cheese! Since this recipe calls for mozzarella, it's going to get a bit stringy, but it will be the GOOD kind of stringy if you follow this instruction.
- Use the freshest tomatoes and basil possible. One of the reasons I use roma tomatoes for this is that their firm texture works well for dicing. I also find they don't have too much "juice" inside so you can just get more of the good stuff for your mac and cheese.
- If you're not familiar with how to chiffonade basil (it's way easier than it sounds!) check out this video first. It'll save you a bunch of time!
Caprese Mac and Cheese
- 3 cups medium shell noodles uncooked
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon salt and pepper each
- 2.25 cups milk
- .75 cup cream
- 1.5 cups fresh mozzarella grated
- ½ cup white cheddar shredded
- 2 roma tomatoes chopped
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves chiffonade, loosely packed
- Cook noodles according to package directions and set aside.
- Grate mozzarella and white cheddar cheese and set aside. Begin to melt 4 tablespoon (¼ cup) of butter and minced garlic in a saucepan on medium heat, careful not to let the garlic burn.
- When the butter is melted, and the salt, pepper, and flour. Whisk well until it begins to form a paste.
- Once the butter and flour are mixed and begin to form a paste, SLOWLY add the milk and cream. Stir constantly, and let the sauce thicken for AT LEAST five minutes. Don't skip this step!
- Once the roux mix has cooked for at least five minutes and is GENTLY boiling/bubbly, turn the heat off. Add the shredded mozzarella and white cheddar. Stir, and let the remaining heat in the pan melt the cheese. This will take a few minutes — be patient!
- While the cheese melts in the roux, this is a good time to dice the tomatoes and chiffonade the basil.
- Once the cheese is completely melted into the sauce, pour the sauce into the pot with the noodles, stir well.
- Serve the caprese mac and cheese in individual bowls and top each one with some of the diced tomatoes and the basil. Add more salt and pepper to taste. I personally like a lot of pepper in this recipe!
- Chiffonade is a way of slicing herbs or leafy greens. If you've never done this before, I encourage you to watch this video because it's a huge time saver!
- If you want, you can stir the tomatoes and basil right into the pasta. I just put it on top because it looked prettier for photos!
- An optional addition to this recipe would be adding a drizzle of balsamic glaze on top. Here's a great recipe for it.
- This makes for a VERY creamy recipe. If you'd like, you can add another 0.5 cup of noodles and it will be slightly less creamy, if that's what you prefer.
I can't wait to hear what you think of this one guys! Please comment down below once you've tried it.
You can also check out all of my other Mac's of the Month here!
xo - C
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