22 February 2009

Potlucking, part II

The second dish I made for the potluck last weekend is one of my all-time favorites -- a baked macaroni and cheese with a tomato bechamel-esque sauce, courtesy of Jamie Oliver. I have a bit of a starcrush on Mr. Oliver, despite his inavailability, beautiful children, etc etc. Let a girl dream. (Jamie ... call me. ;) )

Annnnnnnyways, ahem, I first made the mac'n'cheese, out of his cookbook "jamie's dinners", for a girls dinner on my deck last June. It's the ultimate comfort food, and pairs really well with the pesto pea salad mentioned in the last post. It's creamy with a thyme and breadcrumb crust ... divine. When I have some more time, I'm going to give another Jamie recipe a whirl and break out my new pasta machine ... stay tuned for that.

On to the goods ... I made a few changes from Jamie's original, just for the sake of time / availability.

Tomato Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from "jamie's dinners" by Jamie Oliver

12 oz macaroni (I use campanelle)
hefty amount of breadcrumbs (or 6-7 slices of stale bread)
25 oz (large can, then half a regular sized can) of whole tomatoes, reserve the juice
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 large handfuls of fresh basil
2 oz. sundried tomatoes
2 anchovies (I've left these out in the past at vegetarian friends' request)
sea salt, fresh ground pepper
3 hefty handfuls of Parmesan cheese
2.5 cups light cream
1 TB red wine vinegar
1/2 a nutmeg, grated
14 oz cow's milk mozzarella
handful of fresh thyme
extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. While that's heating up, get a pot of salted water going and cook the pasta.

Meanwhile, it's time for a little food processor fun. Blend up the whole tomatoes (without juice), garlic, basil, sun-dried tomatoes, anchovies, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Once that's whizzed up a bit, add 2 handfuls of Parm (love that measurement), cream, vinegar and nutmeg. I then add a bit of the tomato juice. The pasta really absorbs a lot of the sauce, and can get dry if there's not enough liquid, so dont be shy. This time when I made it, I used almost all of the reserved juice. Don't be shy. Jamie uses some of the pasta water, but I like the tomatoey taste more.

Drain your pasta, toss into casserole dish. Pour the tomatoey saucey goodness over the pasta and then break up the mozzarella over the dish. Mix the last handful of Parm with the breadcrumbs and liberally spread over the dish. Sprinkle the fresh thyme over the top, and drizzle generously with olive oil. It'll help get that crunchy crust you're looking for :)

Place in the oven for about 15 minutes - until the dish is bubbly and the crust has a nice golden color. (**New camera is in the mail ... apologies for the dimly lit photos.)

By the way, this is supposed to serve 4 (says Jamie) ... I don't know about the people he's feeding (FEED ME, jamie. seriously, call me ;) ) butttt this definitely served 10 potluck style with some leftovers. Or at least 6-8 portions otherwise.

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