who doesn't love macaroni and cheese? this version is a great change. this recipe makes A LOT of food. feel free to scale it down. you can use real bacon and use the bacon grease instead of butter in the cheese sauce!
- 1 box rigatoni -
- 2 tablespoons olive oil -
- 6 slices turkey bacon -
- 4 cloves garlic - minced
- 1 onion - chopped
- 1 bag spinach - chopped
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes - drained well
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional) -
- 3 tablespoons butter -
- 3 tablespoons flour -
- 4 cups milk -
- 4 ounces cream cheese -
- 4 cups 3-cheese blend - monterey jack, cheddar and colby
- salt / pepper -
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs -
- preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- bring a large pot of water to a boil. salt the water and add the box of rigatoni pasta. cook until al dente and drain and set aside.
- preheat a large skillet over medium high heat and canola oil. once hot, add the turkey bacon and cook until crispy and brown. add the onion and fresh garlic; saute until tender, about 3-4 minutes. add the chopped spinach and cook until wilted and soft. stir in the tomatoes and red pepper flakes. taste, season with salt/pepper, if needed. saute until hot and set aside.
- in a medium sized pot, melt the butter over medium heat. whisk in the flour and continue to whisk and incorporate into the butter for another 3 minutes, cooking off the raw flour taste. slowly whisk in the milk, stirring occoasionally until thickened. add pieces of the cream cheese and whisk, allowing to the cream cheese to melt into the mixture. slowly whisk in the 3 cheese blend, stirring until smooth. taste, season with salt/pepper.
- in a large bowl, add the rigitoni, bacon mixture and cheese sauce. mix well and pour into a baking dish. top with panko bread crumbs and drizzle olive oil over the top of the crumbs. bake in the preheated oven for 20 - 25 minutes or until the top is brown and bubbly.