BLT Creamy Mac ‘n Cheese
This mac n’ cheese is extra creamy with the addition of cream cheese.
- 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
- Two bricks cream cheese (3 ounces each), 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 fresh basil, torn
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pre-heat the oven to 500°F.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
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, 3-5 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.
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, 7-8 minutes.
In a large bowl, toss the arugula and basil with the lemon juice and a drizzle of EVOO. Serve on top of the pasta.