We figured that neither Gram nor Grand-Maman would be offended by a version modified to our current tastes, so Jeff set to quartering the beautiful, fresh tomatoes.
Meanwhile, I sauteed an onion and some garlic in a mixture of olive oil and butter until softened and fragrant. In went the tomatoes, which looked so pretty in the pot with the spices Jeff added in abundance (basil, oregano, and herbes de provence, with salt and lots of freshly cracked pepper.)
I browned a pound of ground beef from Stephen Taylor's Farm in a nearby skillet, while the whole-wheat pasta boiled away in yet another pot. After we added the meat to the tomato mixture, I remembered a pack of mushrooms that we had in our sorry fridge. I softened those babies up in some garlic butter, and threw them and the drained pasta into the pool with the others. Then, the entire thing was poured into a baking dish.
As you may have noticed, there aren't very many dishes that make it past my inspection without the incorporation of cheese. Although not in my grandmother's original, I sprinkled a blend of shredded Italian cheeses (mozzarella, asiago, provolone, and parmesan) on top before baking. We were very patient, and then...
Heaven! The macaroni and tomatoes was extremely comforting. It tasted so familiar to me, with just a little bit of a new twist. This was a great way to use our tomatoes! I liked the bright and fresh flavour that they brought to the table (no pun intended.) Also, I can't say enough about using garlic butter in this dish; it really stood out, but in the most delightful way.
I enjoyed this so much, that I want to experiment further. Something I'd really like to try, when I've bothered to plan ahead, is folding in cubes of fresh mozzarella before baking. However, that being said, Jeff and I both found ourselves craving Kraft "Parmesan Cheese," the stuff in the green can. Yikes...funny what childhood memories can do to a person!
Not Your Grandmother's Macaroni and Tomatoes: The Recipe
Amanda's Notes: Make sure you undercook your pasta just a little bit, so that it will finish cooking to a perfect al dente in the oven.
3.0 L fresh tomatoes, quartered
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
olive oil, garlic butter
1 lb hamburger, browned
1 box whole-wheat macaroni
1 tsp each basil, oregano, herbes de provence
salt and freshly cracked pepper
Italian cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350F.
Sautee onions and garlic in a mixture of olive oil and garlic butter, until soft. Add mushrooms, sautee until soft.
Add tomatoes and spices. Add ground beef and pasta. Season to taste.
Sprinkle with cheese and bake pasta for 25-30 min. Broil to brown the cheese.
Let the pasta sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.