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  • Writer's pictureCRAIG BRYAN

Healthy Recipe, Cheesy Macaroni Pomodoro


Few things are more comforting than a steaming bowl of macaroni and cheese.  Most versions ooze with butter and cheese. But this one, adapted from “Start Here: Instructions for Becoming a Better Cook: A Cookbook” by Sohla El-Wahlly, is lighter and extra flavorful, replacing the cream with pomodoro, a simple tomato sauce infused with garlic and fresh basil. Serves 2-3. – Susan Puckett



·         Kosher salt

·         1 cup elbow macaroni

·         2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

·         2-3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

·         1 cup tomato puree

·         3 oz Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated (about ¾ cup)

·         2 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut in cubes

·         ¼ to ½ cup roughly torn fresh basil leaves



1.      Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil. Season with 1-2 tsp salt. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until somewhat tender but slightly undercooked; it will finish cooking in the sauce. 

2.      Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining.

3.      Meanwhile, in a medium skillet combine oil and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until garlic is barely golden, about 2 mins.

4.      Add tomato puree, increase heat to medium-high, bring sauce to boil. Add drained pasta and ½ cup of the reserved pasta cooking water, and cook, stirring frequently, until pasta is al dente and the sauce slightly thickened.

5.      Reduce heat to low and add parmesan, stirring frequently until melted. Remove heat and add butter & basil, (reserving a few leaves for garnish), stirring until butter melts. Taste. Add salt if needed, divide between bowls, top w/ more basil. Serve!


Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at


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