Featured Wisconsin Cheeses: Mozzarella
I’m all about simple, tasty dishes. To me, fresh ingredients are what it’s all about and you don’t need a million ingredients to cook something fancy…or a grown-up version of your childhood faves. I whipped up this posh-looking Baked Caprese Macaroni and Cheese in no time with fresh, local food…most of which I had right in my fridge.
Since my cheese of choice was yummy, gooey Wisconsin Mozzarella, the first thing that came to mind was caprese salad – milky Mozzarella with sweet tomatoes and fresh basil. I used that as my inspiration and started with my favorite: baked grape tomatoes – I love the way they burst in your mouth. From there I kept it quick and easy combining stovetop cooking and finishing off the browned bubbly top in the oven for a few minutes. Less waiting = a thumbs up in my book.
Shells were the perfect choice since their little crevices capture all the cheesy goodness. My last- minute decision to coat the Fresh Mozzarella in the baked tomatoes’ pan sauce gave it the extra punch the mild Mozzarella needed. I like to dive right into the baked dish, straight out of the oven. There’s nothing like that stringy, gooey, mouth-watering effect that comes from scooping into a pile of yummy, molten Mozzarella. Enjoy!
Baked Caprese Macaroni & Cheese
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, divided
1 pound pasta shells, medium size
3/4 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) Wisconsin Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
1 8-ounce ball Wisconsin Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, sliced
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a baking dish, combine grape tomatoes, olive oil, basil, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Toss to coat and bake 10 minutes. Remove and let stand.
In a medium saucepan, bring water to boil over high heat; add pasta and cook 12 minutes or until tender. Drain and let stand in a separate bowl.
In the same sauce pan, combine milk, butter, shredded Mozzarella Cheese, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring continually, over low heat until the cheese melts into a thick sauce, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the drained pasta back into the sauce pan and toss to coat.
Pour the pasta and cheese mixture into an 10×14-inch oven-safe dish and top with baked grape tomatoes.
Coat the Fresh Mozzarella slices in the baked tomato sauce remaining in the tomato baking dish. Place the seasoned Fresh Mozzarella on top of the pasta and tomatoes.
Broil for 5 minutes or until the Fresh Mozzarella gets gooey, bubbly, and browned. Serve warm.
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Fresh Mozzarella, Macaroni & Cheese, Recipe, Wisconsin Cheese
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