Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pink Pasta for Valentine's Day

This recipe comes from the New York Times, and it is the most delicious combination of macaroni, cheese and pasta. I added the broccoli so that it could be pink and green pasta, but you certainly don't need it. This is so easy to make on a weeknight when you have about 30-45 minutes, but you don't necessarily want to stand over the stove the whole time.

Macaroni with Tomato Goat Cheese Sauce

1 pound small pasta like elbows or penne
2 tbs olive oil
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes, plus 1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes in juice (I bet you could just use two cans of crushed tomatoes, or two cans of diced too)
1/8 tsp sugar (I don't add this)
Salt to taste
Fresh basil sprigs (I toss in a couple of cubes of the frozen basil Trader Joe's sells)
1 tsp dried oregano (the original recipe says skip this if you use the basil, but I like both)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
4 oz soft and MILD goat cheese (I think you could substitute this for ANY cheese that is relatively creamy)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I'm generally too hungry to bake after making the sauce)

  1. Heat a large pot of water for the pasta.
  2. In a separate large pot, heat oil on medium, and add garlic, stirring until fragrant (about a minute). Add the tomatoes, sugar, oregano, salt and basil. Stir and turn up heat. When it is bubbling, lower the heat to medium and stir (they say often, I say occasionally) for 15-20 minutes.
  3. At this point, I like to add some fresh broccoli florets to the pasta cooking, (for about the last 3 minutes of the pasta cooking). I like it because it's a one pot meal, but the broccoli also tastes really good in the sauce!
  4. As for the tomato sauce, add the fresh pepper and stir in the goat cheese and Parmesan (I turn off the heat). You're left with a pretty pink and creamy sauce.
  5. Drain the pasta and dump into the sauce pot.
  6. Now, if you want to bake this, preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 2 quart baking dish. Tip the pasta/sauce mixture in, cover with breadcrumbs (and drizzle them with olive oil). Bake for about 30 minutes until the crust is browned and the casserole is bubbly - about 30 minutes.
  7. I bet this would actually taste delicious with a nice light red wine, so have a glass for me with it!
  8. This also makes wonderful leftovers if you need to bring your lunch to work. It reheats very well.

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