Monday, July 30, 2012

BLT Mac and Cheese

If I close my eyes I am eight years old again, curiously watching my mother and grandmother eat a shared BLT on wheat toast. The tomatoes are from Mom's garden; Grammie fried the bacon and toasted the bread while Mom was outside picking them. I was instructed to set the table and to find myself something to eat since I couldn't stomach the thought of a raw tomato. As we sit together around the end of the dining room table I watch, speechless, as they savor the sweet, salty flavors and crunch through crisp lettuce tucked between two slices of caramel colored wheat toast.

Did it really happen that way? Were the tomatoes from Mom's garden? They might have been. She's always grown them (except this year...) and Grammie often did the cooking (even at Mom's house...) and I always dutifully did what I was told... no, wait, scratch that last one. That certainly never rarely happened.
What has definitely happened is that as I've grown up my tastes have evolved. Those red orbs in Mom's garden no longer make me say, "yelch." Now I can appreciate a classic BLT as much as Mom and Grammie did. When last at the supermarket I saw that Barilla is now making their mini farfalle flavored with tomatoes and carrots and the plan for this, and other, tomato based pasta dishes sprang to life. Paired with homemade whole wheat bread crumbs this dish evokes strong memories of childhood.

BLT Mac and Cheese ~ serves 4
4 oz of your favorite pasta (dry weight)
4 slices bacon
2 medium tomatoes
2 cups arugula, loosely packed
1.5 cups comté, grated & divided ~ may substitute Swiss, gruyere, cheddar or another cheese
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 tablespoon butter
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450º F.

Fry the bacon and set aside to drain on paper towels. When cool dice 3 slices together. Separately dice the last slice and set aside.

While the water is boiling for the pasta slice the tomatoes into thin rounds. Reserve 8-12 center slices from both tomatoes for the top of the pasta and dice the rest. Combine the bread crumbs and butter. Stir to combine. Add the single diced slice of bacon and half cup of shredded cheese. Set aside.

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box - but drain it 30 seconds to one minute early. Combine with 1 cup of the grated cheese and stir to incorporate. Add the chopped tomatoes, the 3 diced slices of bacon and arugula. Stir well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into casserole dish.

Fan the reserved slices of tomato on top and then cover with the bread crumb-cheese-bacon mixture.

Bake for 15 minutes or until top is golden brown. Serve hot.



  1. That looks completely scrumptious! And the way you described those BLT's your mom & grandmother ate made me hungry!

  2. This looks and sounds SO fabulous!

    I'm up for anything pasta...especially if there's bacon! :D

  3. I love the addition of arugula to the dish. It makes it so very grown up and fancy!

  4. I didn't like tomatoes until about 2 years ago. I always thought they were gross and now I love them. This pasta looks like a winner!

  5. What an extremely fabulous idea. I have been craving a BLT lately too!

  6. Yum, this dish sounds lovely. Oh and I love, love, love that last photo! Makes me want to go out and buy tomatoes now.

  7. Yum, this dish sounds lovely. Oh and I love, love, love that last photo! Makes me want to go out and buy tomatoes now.

  8. The arugula sounds great- Wasn't sure how the "L" in BLT would work here, but I love the use of arugula. It definitely can hold its own, flavorwise. I'll have to try this out.

  9. We love BLTs and so this pasta is looking mighty tasty to me. Yum!

  10. I used to hate BLTs when I was little - it was my dad's favorite. I think it was because he put mayo on it and I hate mayo. Mixed with Mac & Cheese though. That is my kind of meal. Sounds delicious!

  11. Bacon? In the mac & cheese? Yes, please...!

  12. I had a Grammie, too:) Mac&cheese makes friends with everything, doesn't it?

  13. Sounds wonderful and seems like we had similar tastes as kids. While all around me were enjoying their BLTs, I smiled and happily ate my Bacon Lettuce. Keep those 'maters away from me. Glad that has changed.

  14. I didn't grow up with Mac n' Cheese, but I did grow up with BLT's. I love your "grown Up" BLT version of the Mac N' Cheese with the arugula and bacon. My hubby will love this one. I'm off to buy tomatoes:)

  15. Looks wonderful! And it's the perfect time to add the tomatoes -

  16. Are you for real? BLT mac & cheese sounds amazing. I'm drooling, Jess!


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