Dinner request from the College Freshman

Our new college freshman came home this past weekend for a family wedding and we asked her if there was anything special she wanted while she was here.  A quick reply was “Pasta with breadcrumbs and olives, please”.  We asked if there was anything else she would like and another quick response “apple crisp”. Can’t help not feeling lucky with this one,  two pretty easy dishes to make.

The pasta recipe was one we found a few years ago that is absolutely delicious.  The roasted breadcrumbs and the saltiness of the olives is a treat.  And with the olives, our pasta loving son is really pleased.

Spaghetti with Bread Crumbs and Olives (Giada De Laurentis)


1 pound spaghetti

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup seasoned dried bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
3/4 cup pitted and roughly chopped  kalamata olives
3/4 cup pitted and roughly chopped large green olives
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes.

    Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the bread crumbs and 1/4 teaspoon each of the sea salt and pepper. Stirring constantly, cook the breadcrumbs until golden brown, about 2 minutes.

    Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Stir the pasta into the bread crumb mixture. Remove the pan from the heat and add the black and green olives. Add the Parmesan cheese and 3 tablespoons of the parsley. Season the pasta with salt and pepper, to taste. Gently toss to coat, adding reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta. Transfer to a large serving bowl and garnish with the remaining parsley.

    Apple Cranberry Crisp from Fine Cooking
    For the topping
    • 5-3/4 oz. (1-1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
    • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp. table salt
    •  1/4 lb. (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    • 3 oz. (3/4 cup) pecans, coarsely chopped
    For the filling
    • 3 lb. apples (4 to 5 medium-large), such as Braeburn, Gala, Rome, or Honeycrisp
    • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 lb. (2-1/4 cups) fresh cranberries
    • 1 tsp. finely grated orange zest
    • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
    • 3 Tbs. fresh orange juice
    • Pinch table salt
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    Make the topping
    Combine the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until it’s well blended and the mixture is clumpy but still a bit crumbly (it should hold together if you pinch it). Mix in the pecans. Refrigerate until ready to use.
    Assemble and bake the crisp
    Heat the oven to 375°F. Butter the sides only of a 9-inch-square baking pan.
    Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Cut each apple quarter crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Put them in a large bowl, sprinkle on the cinnamon, and toss until evenly coated. Combine the cranberries and orange zest in a food processor and pulse until the cranberries are finely chopped, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed.
    Add the cranberries to the apples and toss to combine. Put the butter, orange juice, and salt in a small microwaveable dish or a small pan. Heat in the microwave or over medium-low heat until the butter melts, about 1 minute. Swirl to blend and pour the mixture over the apples. Toss to coat. Add the sugar and toss to coat again. Pour the apple mixture into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the topping evenly on top of the apples.
    Line a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with foil. Set the pan on the sheet and bake until the juices are bubbling on the sides, the top is golden brown, crisp, and hard, and the apples in the center are tender when pierced with a fork, 60 to 70 minutes (rotate the pan for even browning, if necessary). If the top starts to get too brown after 45 minutes, cover it loosely with aluminum foil. Let cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes to let the juices thicken. Serve warm.

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