Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Cheeseburger Casserole

Don't hate me for indulging a little in my childish side. I was just thinking about different ways to use ground beef and thought, "How about a cheeseburger in a pan?" Neither of my kids is crazy about cheese, and they both ate a lot of this if that is any indication. What would win you the "Best Parent Ever" award is if you could figure out how to put crispy french fries on top! I'm pretty sure your kids would do whatever you asked (for at least an hour) after that. This recipe has lots of inspiration, from Paula Deen to her son Bobby, who tried to cut some of the fat, to Gina at Skinny Taste who made further adjustments. Then, I added some more. The pickles are a bit of a splurge, but they take it from "tomatoey pasta" to "Oh yeah. I'm getting the cheeseburger taste."

Cheeseburger Casserole
2 cups uncooked pasta (rotini or farfalle)
2 teaspoons oil
2 medium-sized onions, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
500g ground beef or buff
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 can whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
3 Tablespoons mustard
2 cups grated cheese
1/4 cup chopped dill pickles

Cook pasta to al dente, according to package directions. While you're straining the pasta, use the same pot to heat the oil. Cook the onions on medium heat for about 5 minutes until they are soft. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute until fragrant, stirring often. Add the ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Saute until the meat is browned and liquid has evaporated. Drain off any fat (usually not necessary here) and add the tomato paste, tomatoes, and mustard. Cook for about 2 minutes just until the sauce thickens a bit. Turn off the heat. Add the noodles to the meat mixture and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a greased 9x13 casserole or deep dish pie plate. Top with grated cheese. To make it extra "cheeseburgery," add a few cheese slices to the top, too. Bake at 170C/350F until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Allow to rest a few minutes before sprinkling the pickles on top and serving.

Note: If you hate having to save leftover tomato paste, look for the little tiny cans available here. They are about 2 Tablespoons' worth and perfect for this.

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