This makes two hearty Italian style pasta casseroles with beef and spinach for very little money and makes good use of ingredients you might have lying around your house. This comes from my Aunt's recipe collection, updated a bit for my tastes. She had originally clipped this from an article in Family Circle in 1973. I wanted to share the story behind this recipe as well as the recipe itself. Basically, a mom of six children had, on the spur of the moment, decided to invite guests over for supper on a Sunday. Apparently, no stores were open on Sundays, so she was unable to buy any ingredients and was faced with only using her meager household staples, and relied on her Italian family background for inspiration. This was what she created. This makes two big casseroles, one you can eat now, and one you may freeze and reheat later if you are not having a bunch of guests over. I think if you don't have any spinach, you could substitute another veggie like roasted red peppers, sauteed mushrooms...really whatever you have handy is the point here. Also, when you make this...you might say "this could use some more cheese"...go ahead and use extra cheese if you want, melting some on top during the last 5-10 minutes of baking.
- 2 1⁄2 lbs lean ground beef
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or 1 tablespoon canola oil, as needed to keep meat from sticking to pan
- 2 large chopped onions (about 2 cups)
- 2 stalks celery & leaves, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
- 3 large carrots, finely grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 (35 ounce) cans Italian-style tomatoes
- 2 -3 teaspoons salt, to taste
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons oregano, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder, to taste
- 1 1⁄2 lbs pasta noodles, cooked and drained (she used macaroni and tiny seashell shaped pasta)
- 2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry well (or use other veggies)
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Brown meat in enough oil to keep meat from sticking, about 5 minutes; drain fat.
- Add onions, celery, carrots, and cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add tomatoes, salt, oregano, pepper, and garlic powder (all seasonings to taste).
- Bring sauce to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and let simmer for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, cook your pasta,timing it so that it is ready when the sauce has finished simmering.
- Mix pasta, sauce and spinach all together, then pour into 2 greased 9x13" casseroles.
- Sprinkle each casserole with Parmesan cheese and bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes, or until bubbly (uncovered).
Why do people change a recipe and then feel free to rate it down?! Rating a recipe down after you change ingredients or don't pay attention to the recipe in other ways gives a false impression of the value of the recipe itself. When this recipe is made according to the directions, it's a 5 Star (and I'm picky!).
This recipe was pretty good. I cut it in half and still had way more than we could eat. I only had two problems with it...first I think it is important to note that the pasta should only be par cooked because whrn it goes in the oven it will cook longer and therefore it is then overdone. Secondly it needed a bit more liquid because mine got really dry. I also substituted whole wheat macaroni. I would probably attempt this one again making the adjustments I mentioned.
This is a great recipe but I botched it! I didn't see the "to taste" after the 2 Tablespoons salt until after I had thrown in 2 Tablespoons! Not good. My family nicknamed this the "Salt Casserole." I ended up throwing out the leftovers and the 2nd frozen casserole. :-( This was really easy to fix. We used Boca Burger (meat substitute) and whole wheat macaroni. I can't wait to try this one again SANS SALT! Thanks for posting.