Thursday, November 4, 2010

BLT Mac and Cheese


1 pound ziti rigati pasta
Extra-virgin olive oil

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 3-ounce bricks cream cheese, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cups shredded asiago, grana padano or parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered


Preheat the oven to 500°.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking, in a large skillet, heat a drizzle of EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp at the edges, 3 to 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 to 8 minutes.

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