Macaroni with Goat Cheese and Marinara
- 1 pound of small pasta, penne or macaroni
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 plump garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (28-ounce) can plus 1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes in juice
- 1/8 teaspoon sugar
- Salt to taste
- A couple of fresh basil sprigs (optional)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, if not using basil
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 4 ounces soft, mild goat cheese
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Adapted from cookingafterfive.com
Begin heating a large pot of water for the pasta. Meanwhile make the tomato sauce. Pulse the chopped tomatoes in a food processor fitted with the steel blade, or pass through the medium blade of a food mill before you begin. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, wide nonstick skillet or saucepan and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds to a minute, until it begins to smell fragrant, and add the tomatoes and their juice, the sugar, salt, oregano if using or basil sprigs. Stir and turn up the heat. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until thick and fragrant, 15 to 20 minutes, or longer if necessary. Remove the basil sprigs and wipe any sauce adhering to them back into the pan. Add freshly ground pepper, stir in the goat cheese and Parmesan and combine well. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF and oil a 2-quart baking dish or gratin with olive oil.
When the water for the pasta comes to a boil add a tablespoon of salt and cook the pasta for a minute or two less than the instructions on the package indicate. It should still be a little underdone as it will finish cooking in the oven. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add the tomato-goat cheese sauce and stir together until the pasta is thoroughly coated. Transfer to the baking dish.
Toss the breadcrumbs with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle over the top of the macaroni. Bake in the preheated oven until the casserole is bubbly and the breadcrumbs are lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.