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As I mentioned, I made my favorite meal for Sunday dinner. Unlike my traditional mac and cheese recipe, Ina Garten (AKA Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa) makes hers with Gruyere cheese, making it more gourmet and delicious. Gruyere is a hard yellow cheese and very expensive, so I don’t make this version often. But when I do (or my mom does), it’s a treat and the best comfort food there is. (I’m pretty sure Ina made this as part of Barefoot Contessa’s “comfort food” episode.)

While you cook the pasta, heat the milk.  In a separate pot, melt the butter and whisk in flour, then the warm milk.  Stir for a minute until thickened.

Ina Garten's Mac and Cheese

Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Add cheeses.

[TIP: Since Gruyere is so expensive (about $1 per ounce when I bought it), I switched the cheese measurements Ina suggests and used 8 oz. Gruyere and 12 oz. cheddar.]

Once cheese is melted, stir in the cooked macaroni.  I used cavatappi (the curly tube macaroni).

Ina Garten's Mac and Cheese

Spread in a baking dish and top with sliced tomatoes.  Toss bread crumbs in melted butter and sprinkle on top.   [I used regular Panko bread crumbs.]

Bake for a half hour until browned, bubbly, and melty.

Ina Garten's Mac and Cheese

Ina Garten’s Mac and Cheese

  • Kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
  • 1 quart milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces Gruyere, grated (4 cups) [JLV substitute: 8 oz. Gruyere, 12 oz. cheddar]
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed) [JLV substitue: Panko bread crumbs]

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.

Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.