Bacon & Tomato Mac & Cheese

Bacon & Tomato Mac & CheeseA quick and easy variety you can make with any basic homemade recipe or boxed mac & cheese. This casserole is meant as a main dish, but we suggest it be served with a salad or crudités (croo-dee-tay – French for a raw vegetable platter) for best nutrition and fiber.

For brown bag Mac & Cheese at work or while on the road, see our preparation & storage tips.

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

* Basic Homemade Mac & Cheese recipe (4-6 servings) or 2 Boxes Mac & Cheese along with ingredients needed as per box instructions.
* One pound bacon (if bacon is very fatty you may want to use 1 1/2 pounds)
* 2 large tomatoes
* Bread crumbs (flavored is recommended)

Bacon is super expensive these days; up to $7+ a pound in some areas. We’ve taste tested several brands, including many store brands, and found most are about the same, some have a little more “smoke” flavor than others and the cheaper brands have much more fat and aren’t as nicely marbled as other brands. For this recipe just about any brand of bacon will do, as long as you make sure the bacon is cooked until crisp. That’s the key. We suggest waiting until a brand you like or trust comes on sale (sales prices should be under $3 to $4 per pound) then buy as much as you can afford and can store in a freezer but that you know you will use within 6 months.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).
2. Grease a 2 quart rectangle or oval casserole dish. Set aside (use butter, margarine, oil or cooking spray).
3. Fry or bake one pound of bacon until fat is crisp. Drain well. Pat off any excess oil. Let cool.
4. Begin to prepare basic mac & cheese as you normally would, but take the following steps before you place mac & cheese into casserole dish.
5. While the macaroni is cooking, Cut 8 thin slices from one tomato (about 1/4 inch slices). Set slices to the side on a piece of paper towel, letting them drain off excess juice. Dice the remaining tomatoes into small pieces (about 1/2 inch cubes). Remove seeds. Drain off any juice (you can save the seeds and juices for use in other recipes or add to salad dressings just before pouring over salad).
6. Cut or break cooled, drained bacon into small pieces no larger than 1/2 inch long.
7. Add cut up bacon and tomato to macaroni & cheese mixture, stir gently until bacon and tomato are evenly distributed into mac & cheese.
8. Place mac & cheese mixture into greased baking dish. Top mixture with 8 pieces of sliced of tomato, sprinkle entire casserole with bread crumbs over the top, bake until lightly browned and bubbly.

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