Mac and Cheese w/ Bacon & Tomato

Adapted from a recipe photocopied from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the date of which didn’t get copied and cannot be found on their site. Good on you, AJC! Citation requirements more or less met, on with the recipe.

Mac and Cheese with Bacon and Tomato

3/4 cup bread crumbs
1-lb package cavatappi or penne pasta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 quart milk
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pound each, shredded: processed cheese (like Velveeta, etc), Parmesan (original recipe called for Gruyère; we liked the Parm so much we’ve never tried with Gruyère)
1 pound cooked BACON, crumbled
3 ripe plum tomatoes, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta al dente, drain, and keep warm. While the water heats and/or the pasta cooks, generously butter a 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Add 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs; shake to coat dish evenly. Melt butter in a saucepan and whisk in the flour, continuing to stir for about 2 minutes. Add the nutmeg and continue stirring for another minute. Whisk in the milk in a steady stream. Heat to a boil and cook, still stirring, for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, add the shredded cheeses, and stir until they melt.

Add the sauce to the cooked pasta and mix thoroughly. Put half of the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with the tomatoes and BACON in an even layer. Add the remaining pasta mixture. Mix the remaining bread crumbs in the olive oil and sprinkle over the dish. Bake until golden and bubbly, about 45 minutes. Modestly accept plaudits from your dining companions.

I have never made this; Ellen always does, and it’s always just mighty good.