200 g bread , preferably stale, for making breadcrumbs
800 g super-ripe tomatoes
1 clove garlic , peeled
2 large handfuls fresh basil
55 g sun-dried tomatoes , chopped
freshly ground black pepper
3 handfuls Parmesan cheese , freshly grated
565 ml single cream
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
½ nutmeg , grated
400 g cow's milk mozzarella , broken up
1 handful fresh thyme , leaves picked
extra virgin olive oil
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I think this is the best macaroni cheese recipe ever (even though it's a bit naughty)! I've used sweet tomatoes in my recipe as they really complement the cheese, and instead of béchamel sauce I've used single cream as it's a lot lighter. I've also topped the dish off with cheesy breadcrumbs, which give it a wonderful crunch. I think you'll laugh when you see how easy it is to make. I put it together extremely quickly by using my Magimix food processor. Don't worry if you haven't got one – you can chop it all up by hand instead and then mix it in a bowl.
Preheat your oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6. Get a pan of salted boiling water going and cook your macaroni according to the packet instructions. Meanwhile, break your bread up, place it in the food processor and whiz it up to form breadcrumbs. Set aside. Wash your tomatoes and place them in the food processor with the garlic, basil, sun-dried tomatoes, anchovies and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Whiz up for 30 seconds. Then add 2 handfuls of the Parmesan, the cream, vinegar and grated nutmeg. Whiz until smooth and season carefully to taste so it's really yummy!
By this time your macaroni will probably be cooked, so drain it in a colander, saving some of the cooking water. Place the pasta back into the pan and pour over every last bit of the cheesy sauce. You want it to be quite loose because you'll be surprised how quickly the sauce will disappear inside the macaroni and will look dry. So add a few spoonfuls of the reserved cooking water. Now you need to get yourself a baking dish about 8–10cm deep – this could be an earthenware dish or even a shallow ovenproof pan. Pour the pasta straight into your baking dish and break the mozzarella into little pieces over the top. Mix the last handful of Parmesan with the thyme leaves and breadcrumbs and sprinkle evenly over the top of the dish. Drizzle generously with good extra virgin olive oil – this will give you a lovely crunch topping.
Place in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes or until piping hot and golden on top. Serve straight away, sprinkled with a little extra Parmesan. Best eaten with a nice salad – and you'll love it.