Many years ago, I was looking for something to make for dinner that used ingredients already in the pantry. I found this recipe in my way-back recipe files and pulled it, wiped the dust bunnies off and started thawing the hamburger. (You can also use turkey – just add a bit of oil while browning it.)
I found it to be quite a versatile recipe. One time I may make it without the cream cheese and sour cream and the next time I may add olives and hot pepper flakes. It’s a good basic casserole recipe and it gets better as leftovers.
In the past I’ve halved this recipe and used a 9×9 baking pan. Just be sure and grease the baking pan (if you’re not using glass), as the pasta will tend to stick.
This time I made it differently and really liked it. I used very short vermicelli (this particular box of pasta was about 1 inch long and very thin) and liked the way it came out. It was almost like it had rice in it, which made me want to try this with rice! Macaroni is a good, small pasta to use, too.
Serve it with a side of fruit or a salad and it makes a filling and tasty weeknight meal or a really good potluck dish. The filling is delicious and hearty and the cheese on top adds that extra goodness!
- 1 1/2 lb ground beef
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp oregano or Italian herbs
- 1, 14 to 16 oz. can of diced Italian tomatoes
- 1, 6 to 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
- 1/3 C ketchup
- 1, 8 oz package small pasta (macaroni, vermicelli, fusilli or gemelli)
- 3 oz Neufchatel cream cheese , cubed
- 1/2 C lite sour cream
- 1 C cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a casserole dish (11 x 7 1/2").
Brown meat and drain off fat if using beef (versus ground turkey). Add salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, Italian herbs, tomatoes, tomato sauce,and ketchup, and simmer for 10 minutes.
While the beef mixture is simmering, cook the pasta and drain. Place the pasta back into the pasta pan and add the cream cheese and sour cream. Stir until blended and the cream cheese has melted . Pour the meat and tomato mixture onto the pasta and stir well. Pour the mixture into the greased dish and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Tips and Stuff:
I use Neufchatel cream cheese as it's what I keep in the house and is 1/3rd the fat of regular cream cheese. Use what you have.
I have omitted the cream cheese and sour cream before and it turned out good, but those two ingredients do help it to firm up and add a nice creaminess.
If not using the dairy items, let the mixture thicken while simmering. Not rocket science, but it's sure a good dinner.