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Mac and cheese with tomatoes served in an orange decorative bowl

Ina Garten's Mac and Cheese with Tomatoes

This is a recipe for Ina Garten's Gruyere Macaroni and Cheese with Tomatoes. A decadent, creamy version of our favorite comfort food. A little sweet and tart from the tomatoes = Delicious.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 10
Calories 568kcal


  • 2 Tablespoons Kosher salt To boil the macaroni
  • 1 pound Cavatappi pasta Or elbow macaroni
  • 1 quart milk
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter divided, 1 stick
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces Gruyere grated = (4 cups)
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar grated = (2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • salt to taste cheese is salty, so taste before you salt.
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 pound fresh tomatoes 4 small to medium
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs 5 slices, crusts removed, dried and cut into small cubes.


  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook about a minute shy of the directions on the package, about 8 minutes. Drain well, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooked pasta water.
  • Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't let it boil.
  • Melt 6 tablespoons (reserving 2 tablespoons for the bread crumbs) 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, salt and pepper to taste and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and the pasta water 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.


Whenever I'm cooking pasta that will be used in a baked casserole-type recipe, I like to cook it slightly al la dente. Which means slightly undercooked. The pasta will continue to cook in the casserole in the oven. Starting out with slightly undercooked pasta will keep it from becoming too mushy during bake time.
Why is pasta water good for pasta sauce? It’s liquid gold. It’s a must to add to any sauce for any pasta dish. It’s high in starch and this salty starchy water helps the sauce cling to the pasta and it helps thicken the sauce. It turns any pasta dish into a luxurious pasta dish.
Note: Some brands of Kosher salt taste saltier than others. Please note the amounts in the recipe above. 


Calories: 568kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 95mg | Sodium: 302mg | Potassium: 368mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1267IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 632mg | Iron: 1mg