I will never forget his reaction when I put the bowl down in front of my son and he took his first bite. His face lit up with glee and he immediately turned to the business of shoveling huge spoonfuls of Macaroni and Cheese with Tomatoes into his mouth, as fast as he possibly could. HELLO solid food.... And when the bowl was empty, he thrust his hands together and desperately started signing "MORE" over and over again. He was only about 6 months old. That is exactly how I feel about this recipe!
This old fashioned baked Macaroni and Cheese with Tomatoes is comfort food at its finest and made with 3 simple ingredients - macaroni, cheddar cheese, and tomatoes. It makes a great meal or side dish and is great any time of the year!
Teaching my kids basic sign language before they could talk was one of the best things I ever did. It empowered them because they could still communicate with us and it was a lot less frustrating for everyone.
Apparently, kids comprehend at least 100 words before they can actually verbalize them, so signing is a great way for kids to express themselves. And having the ability to ask for more of this delicious macaroni and cheese was pretty darn empowering!
This Macaroni cheese and tomatoes was not only my son’s very first real solid food (aside from pablum), it was my daughter's and likely mine as well. And when I need comfort, this is exactly what I yearn for.
And although I've been making it for myself and my kids for years, it's still waaay better if my mom makes it! But isn't everything so much better when your Mom makes it?
I recently reconnected with an old friend from elementary school and out of the blue she said she still remembered my Mom's old-fashioned baked macaroni and cheese! And while I'm sure there are other people out there who make it this way, I've never actually come across anyone that does.
It's so simple, yet so amazing! And this Old Fashioned Date Nut Loaf (shown below) is another one of those simple, yet amazing recipes that my family has been making for generations.
What I love most about these recipes is that they are made with real ingredients - the same ingredients that have been around for generations.
It doesn't get much easier than 3 ingredients. It actually blows me away that three little ingredients can be so delicious! All you need is:
- elbow macaroni
- canned tomatoes
- sharp cheddar cheese * I use low-fat cheddar cheese
And if I’m going to eat macaroni, I want to make it as healthy as possible. Since whole wheat pasta takes such a long time to cook (and I find it a bit too dense), I prefer to use “smart pasta”. Smart pasta tends to cook faster than whole wheat but you still get 4X as much fiber than white pasta.
Although it’s not quite as healthy as whole wheat, you are still getting those additional benefits. And if you’re not a fan of whole wheat, it’s a good alternative. To keep the fat content down, I will also regularly use low-fat cheese. But you need to be careful and keep a close watch on the cheese in the oven because it has a tendency to burn even quicker than regular cheese.
Cook elbow macaroni as per package instructions. * I add some olive oil to prevent it from sticking, but that's optional. Drain macaroni through a colander.
Return to pot or casserole dish and add tomatoes.
Mix tomatoes into macaroni, stirring with a large spoon.
⏲️ Baking time
Heat oven to broil (500 degrees F) and top with shredded cheese.
Bake macaroni and cheese with tomatoes on the middle rack under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned (to your preference). * I put an old cookie sheet underneath to prevent spills from dripping down. * Keep a close eye on it to prevent burning.
This tomato mac and cheese has a baking time of 3-5 minutes because I only put it in the oven to melt the cheese. And although I used a baking dish to pretty up the photos, I usually just bake it in the same pot I cook the macaroni in on the stovetop (just make sure your pot is oven safe!~) or I use my Dutch oven. I love that it's a one-pot meal and so quick to make!
💭What cheese is best for making mac & cheese?
Sharp cheddar cheese is best, in my opinion. However, I use low-fat sharp cheddar to reduce calories and fat. My kids don't even notice. You can also use white cheddar.
***But if you are using a lower-fat cheese, you just need to make sure that you watch it closely in the oven, as low-fat cheese will burn much faster than regular cheese.
Store leftover mac and cheese with tomatoes in the fridge for up to 3 days. If you are only storing it overnight, you can cover it in plastic wrap.
💭Can I freeze this recipe?
You can also freeze it in an airtight container for up to 3 months. have frozen it many times and it still tastes great! Although, obviously it's much better fresh. But because there isn't any milk in it, like many mac and cheese recipes, this one freezes quite well.
You will need an oven-safe large pot for cooking the macaroni or a pot and a casserole dish (or a dutch oven (affiliate links) -it can go on the stovetop and in the oven) and a colander (affiliate links) for draining the macaroni.
👪 Serving Size
This macaroni and cheese recipe makes 6 servings. However, you can half, double or triple the recipe by clicking on the blue serving number and selecting the number of servings you'd like. The ingredient quantities will automatically adjust.
My son will be 14 years old next month and he still loves this baked mac and cheese with tomatoes. However, these days he could probably devour the entire pot!
It's become the ultimate comfort food for my kids as much as it is for me and I'm sure that this recipe will continue on comforting many more generations....
I hope you get as much comfort from this cheese and tomato macaroni as we do!
📋 Macaroni and Cheese with Tomatoes Recipe
- 375 g -box of uncooked elbow macaroni I use Smart pasta (see post)
- **2 teaspoon olive oil (optional)
- 28 oz -can diced tomatoes * you can substitute stewed tomatoes
- 500 g - package of sharp/old cheddar cheese, grated * add more (or less) to your liking
- *NOTE: The photos in this recipe card will NOT print unless you set them to print by selecting "recipe image"Cook macaroni as per package directions. * I add some olive oil to prevent it from sticking, but that's optional. Drain macaroni through colander.
- Return to pot or casserole dish and add tomatoes.
- Mix tomatoes into macaroni.
- Heat oven to broil (500 degrees F) and top with shredded cheese.
- Bake macaroni and cheese with tomatoes on middle rack under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned (to your preference). * I put a cookie sheet underneath to prevent spills from dripping down. * Keep a close eye on it to prevent burning.
- Serve hot.
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