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Out-of-the-ordinary spicy tomato and cheese macaroni

February 18, 2009

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Serves 6

Amherst cooking teacher and author Betty Rosbottom tosses pasta with a spicy tomato sauce, plain havarti and Parmesan cheeses, and tops the dish with slivered black olives. The dish appeared in one of her books, "American Favorites," and was on the cover of Bon Appetit magazine.

6 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 cans (28 ounces each) Italian-style tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper, or more to taste
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Black pepper, to taste
2 cups chicken stock
1 pound large macaroni, rigatoni, or penne
10 ounces plain havarti cheese, shredded
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/3 cup pitted slivered black olives
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil or flat-leaf parsley (for garnish)

1. In a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat 3 of the tablespoons of olive oil. When it is hot, add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, basil, red pepper, salt, and black pepper. Stir well. Add the stock and bring to a low boil.

2. Simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes or until the liquid reduces and the mixture is chunky. Remove from the heat. Taste and add more red pepper, if you like.

3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until the pasta is not quite done.

4. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or another dish with a 2 1/2- to 3-quart capacity.

5. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and transfer to a bowl. Toss with the remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if you like.

6. Stir in the tomato sauce and toss well. Add havarti and toss again. Transfer to the baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan and arrange olives, shiny sides up, over the pasta.

7. Bake the pasta for 25 minutes or until it is hot and bubbly. Sprinkle with basil or parsley.

Adapted from "American Favorites"