Monday, April 18, 2016

Cheesy Beefaroni

I tried a few dinner recipes that were disappointing. One, a pad thai, was particularly disappointing because I had been saving it for a long time. The Engineer loves pad thai, but what I made was barely edible. Another, a roasted onion and sesame quiche, was something I had just bookmarked, but it fell short as well. It could have been good if the onions had been roasted further so that they were more tender, and if they had been chopped more finely (using kitchen scissors wasn’t really a time saver and didn’t allow for size control). Come to think of it, I would have preferred onion paste to chopped onions… As it turns out, what satisfied me was something unfussy and homey: cheesy beefaroni.

There is something universally comforting about this dish. I can’t even say it reminds me of my childhood, because I don’t remember ever eating it… But it was definitely what we needed. It was absolutely delicious and satisfying; I highly recommend it.

12 oz. pasta shells, medium
2 Tbsp. olive oil
½ medium onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. ground beef (sirloin if possible)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme (or a few fresh sprigs tied in a bundle)
¼ tsp. each salt and pepper
1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
½ cup beef or chicken broth
1 (15-oz.) can tomato sauce, or 2 (8-oz.) cans if that's what you have
2 cups shredded lactose-free sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup grated parmesan

Cook the pasta until just before al dente while you proceed with the rest of the recipe.

Heat olive oil in a deep oven-proof skillet or 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until onion is translucent.

Add ground beef and brown. Season with oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper. Mix in the tomato paste until combined.

Add the broth, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir in tomato sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, when the pasta is ready, drain and ad it to the meat sauce, gently stirring to combine. Sprinkle with cheese. Broil about 1 to 3 minutes or until cheese starts to bubble and lightly brown.

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