It's a little pathetic to think of the meals we 'enjoyed' this week but in hope of less stifling heat and more home-cooked and tasty meals, I would like to share an idea for a good summer pasta recipe that I made before the heat set in. This one is inspired by my intense love for Caprese salads which traditionally include tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil leaves, and a simple balsamic vinaigrette. I start with the same cheese sauce base that I use for mac-n-cheese but then change it up with a few fresh ingredients.
- 3 Tbl. butter
- 3 Tbl. flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 lb. pasta (I used rotini but lots of other types would work well)
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 handful fresh basil leaves, chopped (about 1/4 cup when chopped)
- 2 cups (white) cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, chopped into smaller pieces
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook pasta, drain and set aside.
- While pasta is cooking, you can start the sauce. Melt the butter on low heat in a large skillet or saucepan. Once butter is melted, whisk in flour. Keep mixture moving on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. (This mixture will help sauce thicken.)
- Turn heat to low and slowly whisk in milk. Turn heat up a little to gently bring to a simmer and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should be pretty thick at this point.
- Turn heat off. Add cheddar cheese and then salt and pepper to taste. Stir sauce until cheese melts.
- Add pasta to sauce, then basil and tomatoes. Check if more salt and pepper is needed.
- Pour entire mixture into a casserole. Top evenly with fresh mozzarella and bake until the cheese melts (about 10-15 minutes).
- Serve immediately while the mozzarella is still hot and oozy!