I like food magazines. Currently we get Bon Appetit, Cooking Light and Food Network magazines, and my daughter gets Taste of Home. Over the years, we've gotten Vegetarian Times, Gourmet, Saveur and Food & Wine, and I used to seek out my mom's copy of Cooks Illustrated whenever I was at her house.
I flip through the pages, drool over the pictures and usually yell over to my wife more than once, ''Michelle, we gotta make this.''
But the reality is, most months pass without us making a single recipe from those magazines. We get busy, we forget, we're missing a key ingredient or it's just easier to make something else.
Penne with Tomatoes, Olives and Two Cheeses is hearty enough that all it needs to round out the meal is a loaf of crusty bread, a salad and a bottle of wine.
There also are recipes that get made and even enjoyed, but they become one-hit wonders, forgotten when next month's batch of magazines arrives and never made again.
Sometimes, though, one of those recipes grabs a slot in the regular rotation.
This recipe ran in Bon Appetit in February 1995, and we've been making it ever since, usually in the fall and winter, although there's no reason it can't be enjoyed year round. We'd probably make it more often but one of our kids doesn't like her pasta sauces with recognizable chunks of tomato in it.
Penne with Tomatoes, Olives and Two Cheeses
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 28-ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper
2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds whole wheat penne
2 1/2 cups packed grated Havarti cheese
1/3 cup sliced pitted kalamata olives
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
Heat 3 tablespoons oil in heavy, large pot or extra-large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; saute until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Mix in tomatoes, dried basil and crushed red pepper. While bringing to a boil, break up the tomatoes with wooden spoon. Add broth and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until mixture thickens to chunky and reduces to about 6 cups, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite. Drain well.
Return pasta to same pot. Toss with 3 tablespoons oil. Pour sauce over and toss to blend. Mix in havarti cheese. Transfer pasta to 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish. Sprinkle with olives, then parmesan.
Bake until pasta is heated through, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with basil.
And that's not the kind of whine I want with my dinner.
What sets this pasta dish apart is the creaminess of the Havarti cheese. It permeates every bite without forming greasy clumps around the pasta. (The Havarti is a pain to grate because it's a fairly soft cheese, but here's a tip I picked up from watching Paula Deen: Put the cheese in the freezer for about 15-30 minutes, not long enough to freeze solid but long enough that the cheese firms up and is easier to handle and shred.)
That cheese works its way around a tomato-heavy sauce (three 28-ounce cans) that gets sweet and stays chunky from slow cooking with onions and little garlic for more than an hour. As it reduces, the flavors become more concentrated.
I've tweaked the published recipe a bit, but not much. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
The original recipe called for regular pasta, but I make it with whole wheat, which tastes fine with this sauce. I also increase the amount of pasta the original called for, using a pound-and-a-half of penne instead of a pound.
The end result remains well-sauced. I can't imagine anyone thinking the dish is dry, even with 50 percent more penne.
Another thing to remember when making the sauce: The recipe says to add salt and pepper to taste after it reduces. I've never felt the need to add more salt, and I even used my wife's homemade turkey stock that was in the freezer instead of canned low-sodium chicken broth. That probably cut the sodium content more than the published recipe.
There's already sodium in those canned tomatoes, and you're going to be adding Parmesan cheese and kalamata olives - two salty components - to the final dish. Generously salting the pasta water should be the only additional salt necessary.
And use good kalamata olives. Canned black olives are cheaper, and we've made it that way, but the kalamata olives seem to brighten the other flavors.
The dish is hearty enough that all it needs to round out the meal is a loaf of crusty bread, a salad and a bottle of wine.
Give it a try. I bet it won't be a one-hit wonder.