Sunday, August 1, 2010

Living Up to My Expectations: The Perfect Hamburger Macaroni

Hamburger macaroni was one of the first recipes I searched for when I got into food blogging. It isn't a dish I grew up eating, but I always thought it looked so good. But despite my best efforts and several bookmarks, I never made any of the recipes I found. Why? Because I knew what I was looking for and it was clear that none of the recipes I found had it.

Based on the recipes I found, I realized that my take on Hamburger Macaroni might not be exactly the traditional. But I wanted it the way I always THOUGHT it would, or should, taste like. Flavorful, a little cheesy, a little spicy, and hearty. So I took the best of the recipes I had found to use as a guide and put together this: The Perfect Hamburger Macaroni.

The Perfect Hamburger Macaroni
4 servings

1 Tablespoon oil
½ cup Diced Onion (about half a medium onion)
3 cloves garlic
14.5 ounce can roasted tomatoes
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon italian seasoning mix
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
dash of paprika
Salt and Pepper to taste
¾ cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar (+ ½ cup for topping, if desired)
1 lb. Ground Beef or equivalent Vegetarian Crumbles
1 lb. Small Pasta (like elbow macaroni, medium shells, or anything else of similar size)

If using ground beef, brown in a large skillet. Drain and set aside.

Cook pasta according to the package directions and set aside.

Heat oil in the skillet.

Add onion and cook until soft.

Add garlic and cook about 1 minute, until fragrant.

Add roasted tomatoes and tomato paste to pan. Stir to blend paste into tomato liquid.

Add italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, paprika, and salt and pepper if desired. Stir to combine.

Mix cooked ground beef or vegetarian crumbles into tomatoes.

Cook until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

Mix in shredded cheese. Once cheese melts into the sauce combine with cooked pasta.

If desired, top with another ½ cup shredded cheese and transfer to oven just until cheese melts.

For more great pastas check out this weeks Presto Pasta Nights- I'll post the link as soon as the dished are posted.