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Penne and Goat Cheese with Olives

August 1, 2011

It is no secret that I am extremely fond of,  among many things, cheese.  Especially cheese in melty gooey combination with pasta, vegetables. herbs, and whatever else you might choose.  There is just something so filling about taking a bite from a hearty dish of macaroni and cheese.  In honor of my devotion to the oh so humble, but ever delicious, macaroni and cheese I thought I’d share some recipes this week that take simple macaroni and cheese and turn it up a notch (or two…)

Up first is a recipe I must admit I was not a fan of in it’s original form, but with a few tweaks, could definitely become a crowd favorite.  It’s what I like to call grown up mac and cheese.  In its original form I was overwhelmed by the raw garlic and found the ratio of cheese to pasta to be far too high.  I know!  Did you ever expect to hear me say such a thing??  But it’s true.  My husband, a fellow mac and cheese devotee, was a huge fan so I knew it was worth giving it a chance despite my initial dislike.  Plus, I realize that although I may not absolutely love something, doesn’t mean it couldn’t be your new favorite.  Read on to check out the recipe.

Penne with Goat Cheese and Olives
Yields: 4 Servings

1 cup Pitted black Mediterranean olives
3 Garlic cloves (chopped)
3 tablespoons Olive oil
4-5 ounces Goat cheese (crumbled)
1/2 teaspoon Fresh thyme (or pinch of dried thyme, crush between your fingers before adding)
12 ounces Penne
Salt (to taste)
Freshly ground pepper (or red pepper flakes, to taste)

1. Whirl olives in the food processor until they are finely chopped and put in a bowl large enough for the pasta.
2. Heat small frying pan over medium heat.  Saute garlic in 1 tablespoon olive oil for 1 minute. Mix in the cooked garlic, additional olive oil, goat cheese, and thyme into the olive mixture.
3. Cook the pasta in large pot of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and reserve a few spoonfuls of the pasta cooking water.
4. Toss the hot pasta into the oil, olive, and cheese mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Add a tablespoon or two of the hot cooking water, tossing it with pasta to bind it with the sauce. Serve warm.

Kate’s Thoughts

I chose to saute the garlic for a quick minute before adding to the olive mixture to reduce the sharpness I originally thought it gave when it was raw.  I also reduced the cheese by an ounce or two, although your personal preference may be to add more once you have the dish prepared.  Besides being high in flavor, this dish is also incredibly easy to put together.  I liked that it was an adult twist on a classic and the saltiness of the olives gave a nice contrast to the tang of the goat cheese.

Adapted from Macaroni & Cheese by Marlena Spieler.

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