200g/7oz bread, preferably stale, for making breadcrumbs
800g/1 ¾ lb super ripe tomatoes
1 clove of garlic, peeled
2 large handfuls of fresh basil
55g/2oz sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
565ml/1 pint single cream (half and half)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
½ a nutmeg, grated
400g/14oz cow’s milk mozzarella, broken up
A handful of fresh thyme, leaves picked
Extra virgin olive oil
Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Get a pan of salted boiling water going and cook your macaroni according to the packet instructions. Meanwhile, break your bread up, place it in the food processor and whizz up to form breadcrumbs. Set aside. Wash your tomatoes and place them in the food processor with the garlic, basil, sun-dried tomatoes, anchovies and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Whizz up for 30 seconds. Then add 2 handfuls of the Parmesan, the cream (half and half), vinegar and grated nutmeg. Whizz until smooth and season carefully to taste so it’s really yummy!
By this time your macaroni will probably be cooked, so drain it in a colander, saving some of the cooking water. Place the pasta back into the pan and pour over every last bit of the cheesy sauce. You want it to be quite loose because you’ll be surprised how quickly the sauce will disappear inside the macaroni and will look dry.
So add a few spoonfuls of the reserved cooking water. Now you need to get yourself a baking dish about 8–10 cm/3 or 4-inches deep – this could be an earthenware dish or even a shallow ovenproof pan. Pour the pasta straight into your baking dish and break the mozzarella into little pieces over the top. Mix the last handful of Parmesan with the thyme leaves and breadcrumbs and sprinkle evenly over the top of the dish. Drizzle generously with good extra virgin olive oil – this will give you a lovely crunchy topping.
Place in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes or until piping hot and golden on top. Serve straight away, sprinkled with a little extra Parmesan. Best eaten with a nice salad – and you’ll love it.