Cavatappi with Tomatoes

BlueCheese Pasta in bowlWhen the weather gets cooler, I become a sucker for trying any baked pasta recipe I find. This one caught my eye in Cooking Light magazine because it seemed a bit different than the average mac and cheese or baked ziti. And, it is – it has a unique flavor with the roasted tomaotes, bacon and a hint of blue cheese.

A word of warning, to bake the tomatoes, you need 3 hours so I would recommend this as a Sunday night recipe.

CAVATAPPI WITH TOMATOES
6-8 Servings

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
Cooking spray
2 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
1 pound cavatappi pasta
2 slices applewood-smoked bacon, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped onion
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic (about 2 cloves)
4 cups fat-free milk, divided
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) finely shredded fontina cheese
3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 250°. Combine first 3 ingredients on a lightly sprayed jelly-roll pan. Bake at 250° for 3 hours. Preheat broiler.Blue Cheese Pasta in Pan

Bring 6 quarts water to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons salt and pasta; cook 8 minutes or until al dente. Drain.

Cook bacon in a saucepan; remove. Cook onion in drippings 4 minutes. Add flour and garlic; cook 1 minute. Stir in 1 cup milk. Gradually add 3 cups milk; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; let stand 4 minutes. Stir in cheeses. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, bacon, tomatoes, and chives. Add pasta. Divide among 8 (10-ounce) lightly sprayed ramekins or one large glass baking dish. Combine panko and butter; sprinkle over pasta. Broil 5 minutes.

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