Creamy mac ‘n’ cheese loaded with tender tomatoes, crispy bacon, and topped with some peppery arugula! Of course you can leave the “L” off if you’d prefer, but this is a fun twist on mac ‘n’ cheese, and the arugula adds some great flavor and texture.
- ½ (16 ounce) package elbow macaroni
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 6 slices bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
- ¼ cup bacon grease
- nonstick cooking spray
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 (14 ounce) can diced petite-cut tomatoes
- 1 ½ cups milk, or more as needed
- 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup chopped broccoli
- 1 cup arugula leaves, or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice, or to taste
- 1 Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook elbow macaroni in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until tender yet firm to the bite, 10 to 11 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- 2 Meanwhile, place bacon pieces in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove bacon from the skillet and set on paper towels to drain excess grease. Reserve 1/4 cup of the bacon grease, and carefully discard any extra or save for another use.
- 3 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- 4 Return 1/4 cup bacon grease to the skillet, adjusting heat if the skillet is too hot. Whisk in flour until smooth. Allow flour mixture to bubble gently and cook, whisking regularly, about 1 minute. Whisk in canned tomatoes with liquid and milk. Whisk until smooth and mixture is bubbly and thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. If mixture is too thick, thin with a little more milk.
- 5 Stir in Cheddar cheese and stir until cheese has melted into the sauce. Thin with a little bit of milk if needed. Taste mixture and season with salt and pepper. Stir grape tomatoes and broccoli into the sauce. Add cooked and drained noodles and stir gently to coat. Fill mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with bacon pieces.
- 6 Bake in the preheated oven until top is bubbly and broccoli is crisp-tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Toss arugula with some lemon juice and serve atop the mac and cheese.
- Calories 755
- Carbohydrate 59.8 g
- Cholesterol 95.9 mg
- Fat 42.2 g
- Fiber 3.9 g
- Protein 32.2 g
- Saturated Fat 21 g
- Sodium 899.9 mg
- Sugar 9.1 g
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