A month or so ago, I read Kelly's post on Macaroni & Cheese with Bacon and Tomatoes over at Sass & Veracity. Pasta, cheese, tomatoes...bacon! Bookmarked immediately.
Digging through my fridge the other day, I saw some cheddar, some blue cheese, and some feta. And I knew there was bacon in the freezer and pasta in the pantry. Off to the store to get colby jack and a few (sorry-looking February) tomatoes, and I was in business.
You could use practically any combo of cheeses here, although I'd shy away from something really funky like bierkäse or raclette. The bacon (obviously) adds some deliciousness, and the tomatoes add some sweet acidity to cut the richness of the cheese sauce.
I love crunchy toppings, so of course I was digging on the idea of the panko-parsley mix spread on top of all the creamy cheesy loveliness.
Verdict? Absolutely heart-stoppingly-tasty. (Yes, stoppingly is a word, I just made it up, so there.) I deliberately didn't add any salt to the cheese sauce, and served the mac&cheese with a sprinkling of some flaky pink Australian salt, which not only supplied the required NaCl, but also enhanced the crunch factor.
Like Kelly said in her post, you could add cauliflower or spinach, and/or enhance the dish with red chili flakes. Heck, you could completely change the flavor profile and add some smoked trout. Or you could go totally porky and add some shredded carnitas or smoked pork shoulder. The world is your oyster. (Hey, maybe you could add chopped smoked oysters!)
Whatever you add or don't add, this recipe is a very good mac & cheese. So go make it already!