BLT Mac & Cheese

Well, we've moved out of the dreary, drab month of January. Snow, snow, and more snow seemed to be the theme! Even though we're far from spring (pretty sure the groundhog saw his shadow and we've got several more weeks of winter on the way), I always like to start using spring-like flavors a little early to make it seem less like winter. BLT Mac & Cheese is a fresh twist on macaroni & cheese, using spring leeks, tomatoes, and of course, BACON!   IMG_2640   When I first think of BLT's, I'm not instantly excited. Growing up, I didn't like tomatoes, so whenever my mom made BLT's for dinner, I'd have a bacon & cheese sandwich. It's funny that I didn't like tomatoes, because I poured ketchup on everything. Green beans, mac & cheese, shrimp, steak, turkey sandwiches. You name it, ketchup would be good with it. So, I wasn't immediately excited about this recipe when I first saw it. Until I realized there was lots of cheese involved. And it could be made start to finish in less than 30 minutes. Now, there's no lettuce in this recipe, the "L" stands for leek. I had never purchased a leek before trying this recipe. It took awhile to find them in the produce section. It just looks like a giant green onion.   IMG_2634   This mac & cheese is unique because you actually cook the noodles in the sauce. This eliminates extra dishes, saves time, and makes it really creamy. It's also super simple to make - boil the water, add the pasta along with the cheeses, and seasonings. Add the leeks about halfway through so they get tender, and then stir in the tomatoes and bacon at the end. It  was definitely a hit in our house!  

BLT Mac & Cheese

Servings/Yield: 6 servings
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 lb. bacon, diced
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 16 oz. uncooked pasta, (penne or cavatappi)
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 large leek, diced
  • 3 plum tomatoes, diced
Method Bring 5 cups water to boil in large pot. Meanwhile, cook bacon over medium-high heat 8-10 minutes until crisp. Remove to paper towel-lined plate. When water is boiling, add pasta, cream cheese, grated cheeses, salt, and black pepper. Cover and simmer vigorously 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add leeks to pasta mixture and cook, uncovered, 5-7 more minutes or until pasta is cooked to desired tenderness and sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally. When finished, stir in tomatoes and most of bacon. Spoon into bowls and garnish with remaining bacon. Source: adapted from Pampered Chef 29 Minutes to Dinner

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