One of our favorite “Midwest” pasta dishes is this super simple macaroni and beef recipe. I suppose sometime I will write up something fun about casseroles, bakes, and other pot luck style dishes made famous in the heartland of our great country but for now want to simply share this with you.
The beauty of this dish is it literally is open to interpretation. By cooking the macaroni a little less (about 2 minutes), browning some burger, and adding tomatoes and of course cheese, you can add whatever you like as seasonings. Onions, garlic, oregano? Yes! Chili powder, cumin? Of course! Have some veg you want to sneak in like kale or spinach? That works too.
A final note is that you can easily double or triple batch this sucker for a future meal (think late evening kid baseball game). Just pull it from freezer and go!
Macaroni and Beef
1 large onion diced
1 T oil
2 lbs ground beef
1, 28 oz can of tomatoes, pureed in can (or sauce)
1 box macaroni
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
Optional Seasonings and veg
black pepper, oregano, cumin, coriander, chopped garlic, hot smoked paprika, chilli powder—whatever. Also feel free to add cooked spinach, kale, or even cauliflower and broccoli.
Sweat the onions in the oil with a three-fingered pinch of salt. Add the beef and cook it, breaking it up as you do. Add another three-fingered pinch of salt or two, along with any dry seasonings you want. Add the tomatoes and any fresh seasonings you may be using, bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cook for an hour.
Cook the macaroni in boiling water till it’s half done. Drain it and add it to the tomatoes. Stir it into the sauce. Taste it. Add more salt and other seasonings as needed, and cover. When it’s cooled and the pasta has absorbed the tomato juices, transfer it to a large baking dish and cover it with foil. It can sit out for several hours like this, be refrigerated for up to two days, or frozen a few weeks.
Bake it in a 400 degree oven till it’s piping hot (about 45 minutes if it’s cold to room temperature). Just before you’re ready to eat, remove the foil, cover macaroni with the cheese and broil till it looks beautiful.