2/3 lb elbow macaroni (yield: 4 cups cooked)
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 1/4 TB all-purpose flour
1 1/4 TB unsalted butter
4 oz fresh Mozzarella cheese, diced
2 oz Muenster cheese, shredded
2 oz Pecorino Romano cheese, shredded
freshly ground black pepper
dried basil leaves
2 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
15 large basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
1 garlic bulb
3/4 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat and cook the pasta until al dente, 8 - 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water. Place in a large mixing bowl. Add a touch of olive oil and toss lightly.
Basil is one herb that can be easily bruised and blackened when cutting, so proper technique counts for a lot. When chopping basil, roll 4-5 leaves up like a cigarette. Then use a knife to slice through the leaves, rather than chop down on them (be sure to use a properly sharpened knife, of course).
Preheat the oven to 400° F.
Slice off the top of the garlic bulb to expose the clove interiors. Brush the bulb with olive oil and wrap it in foil. Place directly on the center oven rack and roast at 400° F for about 30 minutes until the cloves are very soft and you can easily squeeze them out of their skins. (A standard garlic bulb should yield about one-quarter cup roasted garlic which is the amount you need in this recipe).
Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside. Toss the tomatoes with olive oil, dried basil leaves, salt, and pepper. Place the dressed tomatoes skin side down in a single layer on the prepared pan. Roast for 25 minutes at 400° F. After removing from the oven, wait for the tomatoes to cool, and then remove the skins. Dice the cooled tomatoes.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk to a boil. Remove from heat.
In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the flour, cooking for 3-4 minutes. Be careful not to brown the mixture.
Slowly add the hot milk, whisking constantly (this will ensure that there are no lumps).
The Cheese Sauce
Add the mozzarella, muenster and pecorino romano. Stir frequently, until the mozzarella is melted and the sauce is slightly thickened. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup roasted tomatoes, 3 tbsp fresh basil and 1/4 cup roasted garlic. Pour the mixture over the pasta and mix thoroughly.
Transfer to a baking dish.
Combine the shredded parmesan and breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the macaroni.