Fresh Flavor for Old Favorites: Rigatoni and Cheese with Basil and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Serves 6

This version of macaroni and cheese calls for rigatoni instead of the usual macaroni, reduces the butter and cheese by 30 percent, and adds fresh basil and sun-dried tomatoes. Simple as it is to make, it rivals the taste of pasta dishes from excellent northern Italian restaurants.

  • 12 ounces rigatoni (or other macaroni-type pasta)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups low-fat milk
  • 6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and dried between paper ­towels
  1. Cook the rigatoni according to package directions and drain.
  2. Melt the butter, sauté the onions until tender, and blend in the flour, salt, and pepper. Stir until light golden in color, then add the milk.
  3. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the cheese, stirring until melted.
  5. Remove from heat and add the rigatoni, basil, and tomatoes.
  6. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish that has been coated with cooking spray.
  7. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. Serve.

Terri Wuerthner is an herb lover and food developer in Palo Alto, California.

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