BLT Mac for the Win
I am constantly on the hunt for meals that both the adults and kids in our family will eat and enjoy! I’m often separating our meal into different sections for the kids, or telling them how much more they’ll need to eat in order to earn a show before bed. I don’t ever make separate food for the kids, but it does feel good when they eat dinner happily and enjoy what I prepare.
We were visiting my sister Noelle’s family in Washington over the summer, when she cooked BLT Mac and Cheese in about 30 minutes in one single pot. I immediately knew I was adding this recipe to my meal rotation because it was so easy to make and clean up, and because I can sell it as mac and cheese to the kids, and impress my husband with the bacon! Everybody is happy! Also, I don’t have a dishwasher at home, so meals that require very few dishes always appeal to me.
In the past, I had always boiled pasta, prepared a separate sauce and then combined them. So this meal was eye opening for me because I didn’t realize that you can actually cook pasta in the sauce! I like use cavatappi pasta since it’s fun to eat and a change of pace at our house, but you can substitute in whatever you’d like. If you think your crew will enjoy a traditional elbow pasta better then go for that!
BLT Mac and Cheese
5 cups water
8 slices bacon, chopped
4 oz sharp white cheddar, grated
1 oz parmesan cheese, grated
4 oz cream cheese
1 lb cavatappi (or other) pasta
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 large leek (white and light green parts only)
3 large plum tomatoes
Start by bringing the water to a boil in a large pot. Once that is on, I get my bacon cooking in the microwave. Be sure to save the grease! While the bacon is cooking grate cheddar and parmesan cheeses. Then add pasta, cream cheese, grated cheeses, salt and pepper to the boiling water. Cover and simmer vigorously for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While this cooks on the stove, it’s time to prepare the leeks. If you haven’t used leeks before, waste no time! I think of leeks as a large, mild green onion that add flavor and dimension to any dish. Slice leek in half lengthwise and then crosswise into thin slices. Rinse these in cold water to remove the dirt. Now add leeks into pasta pot and cook uncovered 5-7 minutes until pasta is cooked to desired tenderness, stirring occasionally.
The last ingredient to prepare is the tomatoes. Dice the 3 tomatoes and save a handful out to use as garnish. Remove pasta pot from the heat, stir in the tomatoes and about half the chopped bacon.
Meanwhile, cut tomatoes and reserve ¼ c. for garnish. Remove stockpot from heat, stir in remaining tomatoes and half the bacon. Spoon pasta into bowls and garnish with remaining bacon and tomatoes. My kids gladly take anything topped with bacon!
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