I have a favorite cookbook, and it’s not Rachael Ray, Martha Stewart, or Giada, although I have theirs as well. My favorite cookbook is Recipes from the Maine Kitchen, a compilation of favorite Maine recipes put together by Friends of the Cancer Community Center. All proceeds from this cookbook benefit the Cancer Community Center, a non-profit that provides support and information, at no charge, to adults living with cancer and their family and friends.
I’m not saying this is my favorite because it’s from Maine and that fits neatly with my blog, or because it benefits a non-profit, although I love those things as well. It is the cookbook I reach for the most frequently by far, I love every recipe I’ve tried, and, in particular, I appreciate that the ingredient lists aren’t two miles long. Rachael Ray is wonderful, but whenever I try a recipe of hers, I seem to find myself buying a multitude of ingredients I’ll never use again, and they inevitably go bad. This cookbook incorporates many of the basics – the seasonings, spices, and foods I keep in my house all the time – into their recipes, which works beautifully for me.
Today, I want to share one of my favorite recipes from this favorite book. Last night, I had my friend Bethany over for some girl time, and this is what I made. It’s on page 157 and is called simply, ‘Pasta with Olives, Tomatoes and Cheese.’ And it is extraordinary – after all, how can you go wrong with a title like that? It has these little chunks of Havarti that positively melt in your mouth, a parmesan cheese topping, and a great tomato flavor.
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 3 cans (28 oz.) Italian plum tomatoes, drained
- 2 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 lb. penne pasta (I use whole wheat)
- 3 cups Havarti cheese, grated or chopped
- 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Heat the oil, in a large, heavy pan, over medium high heat and saute the onion and garlic until translucent (about 6 minutes). Add the tomato, basil, and crushed red pepper and bring to a boil. If you’ve bought whole plum tomatoes, break them up at this point (a wooden spoon works well). I buy the diced tomatoes so I can skip this step.
Add the broth and bring back to a boil, then reduce to simmer until mixture thickens into a chunky sauce, stirring occasionally (this takes about an hour).
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the same pot. Mix with the sauce, adding the Havarti cheese and olives. Place in a 9″x13″ baking dish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.
A bottle of Chianti goes well with this yummy dish!
Here are the end results:
If you’re interested, I highly recommend reaching out to the Cancer Community Center to procure a copy of this cookbook and support a great cause in the process. Happy Cooking!