This is the pasta dish that inspired Michael to start eating healthier.
He dubbed it "heart attack pasta". After eating it he realized that if he continues to eat this way he will die of a heart attack.
It's actually not that bad but Michael isn't used to cooking so he doesn't realize how much fat, sugar, and cream goes into most meals. It's kind of like how I would totally be a vegetarian, in a heart beat, if I had to kill for meat.
I'm starting to cook a little bit more often now and it's fun to discover new ingredients that seems to be common, yet so foreign. For example, a not too long ago I discovered shallots and have been using it regularly now. With this dish, I discovered leeks! It's not crucial to the ingredient but when I'm making something this heavy vegetables help me rationalize it as health food....
And, with a nickname like heart attack pasta you figure it must be good, and oh it is!
BLT Creamy Mac' n' Cheese
1 lb ziti rigati pasta
extra-virgin olive oil
6 slices bacon, chopped
2 leeks- trimmed, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 TBSP tomato paste
6 oz cream cheese
1.5 shredded asiago, grana padano or parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 cup arugula (I already had some spinach in the fridge so I just used that and sprinkled on a bit of pepper)
1 cup basil leaves, torn
juice of 1/2 lemon
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking water.
While the pasta is working, in a large skillet, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp at the edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the leeks and cook until softened, 3 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Stir in the cream cheese until melted. Stir in half of the shredded cheese, then the reserved pasta cooking water.
Add the pasta to the sauce and toss. Pile into a casserole and top with the tomatoes and remaining shredded cheese. Bake until browned on top, 7 to 8 minutes.
In a large bowl, toss the arugula and basil with the lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve on top of the pasta.