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BLT Pasta Bake

Here's a modified version of a Rachael Ray favorite!

1 pound rigatoni (tube shaped pasta)
8 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
2 large leeks, trimmed of roots and dark green tops
salt and pepper
2 T butter
3 T flour
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 c milk
1 c water
1 chicken bouillon cube
3 1/2 c Gruyere cheese, divided
1 T dijon mustard
1 pint grape tomatoes
3/4 c Panko or plain bread crumbs

Cook the pasta to al dente. While pasta boils, fry bacon until crisp. While bacon is cooking, spit the trimmed leeks lengthwise, lay the leeks cut side down, and thinly slice into half moons. Fill a large bowl with water and mix the leeks into the water. Allow the water to settle, and the dirt and grit to settle on the bottom of the bowl. Draw the leeks from the water. Drain them on kitchen towel and pat dry. Add to the bacon pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook about 3-4 minutes longer.

To start cheese sauce, melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, and cayenne pepper. Whisk together and cook for 1 minute more. Whisk in milk and water and chicken bouillon. Bring the sauce to a boil, then simmer to thicken about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in 3 cups of grated cheese and the mustard. Set aside.

Add the tomatoes to the leeks and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.

Combine the 1/2 c cheese with bread crumbs.

Combine drained pasta, cheese sauce, and bacon, leek, tomato mixture. Put into greased casserole dish and top with bread crumb mixture. Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes.

Serve with a green salad.


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