Since we were roommates for years and tried out our cooking on each other almost every night, I trust her judgment and knew I would probably love this meal.
I did love it. I mean, we did. It was a slam dunk with my family.
I mean, how can you go wrong with tender macaroni covered in a creamy herb and cheese sauce and topped with tomatoes and golden parmesan cheese? Sign me up.
This would make an excellent Take-In Meal and will definitely be going into our dinner rotation!
Tuscan Macaroni and Cheese Bake
- 12 ounces precooked smoked chicken (or turkey) sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick (you can substitute the same amount of Italian sausage – just cook and drain it)
- 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
- 8 ounces cream cheese, cubed and softened
- 1 cup sliced olives
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (don’t be afraid of this! It won’t make it spicy, I promise)
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 1 tomato, sliced thinly
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Cook elbow macaroni according to package directions but undercook the pasta by 1-2 minutes since it will continue baking in the oven. In a large bowl, combine the sausage, cooked pasta, cream cheese, olives, and mozzarella cheese. In a small bowl, mix flour and spices together.
- In a medium saucepan melt the butter, then whisk in flour and spices. Allow the flour/butter mixture to cook without browning for about 30 seconds while whisking/stirring. Slowly add the milk and stir until slightly thickened, this may take about 5-6 minutes. Stir constantly to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pan. When slightly thickened, pour the milk mixture over pasta mixture and mix well.
- Pour into an 11X7-inch (or circular) lightly greased casserole dish. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove cover and add tomato slices on top then sprinkle parmesan cheese over and bake uncovered for 10 minutes more. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.
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Recipe Source: adapted from Dixie D.