As a young girl back in South Africa, my mom used to make mac-and-cheese. She used to add vienna sausages and sliced tomato and I distinctly remember eating it with a good squeeze of tomato sauce.
Nowadays there is not a chance in hell that you will find me eating a vienna sausage (if I don’t know what’s in it, I ain´t eating it!) but the addition of small bits of meat is still appealing to me. Sometimes I don’t even add the bacon, it is the tomato that I am after. I don’t know why more people don’t add tomato to their mac-and-cheese? The acidity of the tomatoes works wonderfully against the richness of the cheese sauce!
I make two variations of this dish. Sometimes I would leave out the crumb all together and just finish it off with extra cheese on top with a layer of tomatoes with a little oregano, it is still delicious! It is also a lovely dish to make for one person. I usually get about 4-6 portions out of this dish, once cooled I simply wrap it up and place it in the deepfreeze for another day. Add a salad and you have yourself a perfect meal for one.
- 500g x uncooked pasta (I used Penne)
- ½ cup (115g) x butter
- ½ cup x flour
- 140g x bacon, chopped (optional)
- 2 x tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 200g x sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 2 tsp x Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp x oregano, dried
- 1 Lt x milk, full cream
- 30g x Panko crumbs
- 40g x Parmesan cheese, grated
- Salt and pepper
- Chives, finely chopped (optional)
- Olive oil
- Pre-heat your oven to 180°C.
- Boil the water, add a little salt and cook the pasta until al dente. Pour through a strainer and rinse with cold water and set aside. (I find that rinsing with cold water stops the pasta from sticking together)
- Meanwhile in a large saucepan on medium heat, add 1 Tbsp of oil and fry the bacon until just crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
- Melt the butter in the same saucepan and then add the flour.
- Whisk together until smooth and then slowly add the milk, stirring to combine. Cook and stir often until the mixture starts to thicken. Remove from heat.
- Add mustard and shredded cheddar and stir until melted, season with salt and pepper and then gently fold in the cooked al dente pasta.
- Smear a little butter in an ovenproof dish. (21 x 29cm)
- Scoop half of the pasta mix into the bottom and flatten with the back of a spoon.
- Layer with the cooked bacon (if using), slices of tomato and oregano.
- Scoop the rest of the pasta mix on top and again flatten with the back of a spoon.
- In a small bowl, mix together the crumbs and parmesan cheese and sprinkle evenly over the top.
- Drizzle with a little olive oil or a few dots of butter and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the crumb is golden brown.
- Let it stand for at least 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve.