A pretty basic dish, but on a cold night, when you don’t want to do a lot of prep work or wait too long for dinner, it’s perfect. B says it’s the cafeteria food they must serve in heaven.
This very simple recipe comes from Karyl Bannister’s 2001 cookbook Cook & Tell: No-Fuss Recipes & Gourmet Surprises. She also writes a monthly newsletter out of Love’s Cove, Maine, that is a lot of fun and very useful (10 issues a year for $20). Most of the recipes in Cook & Tell are keepers (Nesbitt, curried cauliflower jacket potatoes, spare ribs and sauerkraut). A few are clunkers (Swedish meatballs with corn chips: why would you ruin perfectly nice Swedish meatballs with nasty-tasting Fritos?), but this you will find in any cookbook. I love her writing style and her approach, which is: “I think food should be reasonably wholesome and taste good.”
So, here’s Nesbitt (serves 4, but only 2 extremely hungry J-and-Bs), with a little bit of an introduction by Karyl Bannister:
OK, so nobody likes fish, and chicken has gotten boring. Then make Nesbitt. Totally untrendy, it’s the consummate gang’s-all-here or summer-cottage supper (it doubles easily). Priscilla Talley’s family named it for the Misses Nesbitt, who brought this dish to them every year upon the Talleys’ arrival at their summer place.
1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with their juice
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)
Pinch of sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 1- or 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Partially cook the macaroni in a large saucepan of boiling water, about 7 minutes. Drain and return to the pot. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion until limp and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the sautéed onion, tomatoes, cheese, and sugar to the drained macaroni and stir gently but thoroughly. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish (it will be loose and wet). Bake for 45 minutes, or until bubbling and nicely tightened up. Serve hot.A few notes: (1) I use an 8x8 glass pan; (2) “partially” cooking the macaroni for 7 minutes results in fully cooked macaroni on my stove, but no matter, that’s what I do; and (3) just FYI, my mixture is not so “loose and wet.”
Serve with a salad. We’re having ginger snaps and milk for dessert.