I find myself obsessed with homemade casseroles; they’re delicious, soul-warming and are fantastic as a make-a-head. Here I’ve made my rendition of a classic American/Canadian dish that I only just discovered not too long ago.
Serves up to 8
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
400 – 450 g extra lean ground beef
1 Medium red onion, diced
½ Medium green pepper, diced
3 Cloves garlic, crushed
½ Cup red wine (or white)
796 ml can of diced tomatoes
680 ml jar of passata (strained tomatoes)
½ Cup sodium-reduced beef stock (or whatever you have on hand)
3 Cups small pasta (I used shells)
1 cup grated old cheddar cheese
Place a large ovenproof skillet (ideally a cast iron skillet) over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot (it will ripple) add the ground beef; season with salt and pepper. Break the beef up using a wooden spoon.
When the meat is browned, drain the meat using a sieve to get rid of the excess fat.
Return the beef to the pan over medium-high heat and add the onion and green pepper; season with some salt and pepper.
Sauté for about 5 minutes just until the veggies start to soften.
Add the garlic to the pan and sauté for about 30 seconds, careful not to let the garlic burn.
Turn the heat up to high and add the wine, scape the bottom of the pan to release any flavours (deglazing).
After the wine has cooked out (about 30 seconds to a minute), turn the heat down to medium and add the diced tomatoes and passata.
Pour the beef stock into the empty jar of tomatoes and swish it around to release any of the tomato that may be remaining and add it to the pot (this isn’t necessary with the can of diced tomatoes); stir well.
Add the pasta ensuring it is covered by the sauce (which is really thin at this point).
Bring the pan to a boil and then drop heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Top evenly with the cheddar.
Place under the broiler until the cheese has melted and is slightly darkened.
- Feel free to use stock in place of the wine.
- If you don’t have diced tomatoes you can skip it and use 1 cup of stock instead of ½.
- If doing a make-a-head, you can cook it up until the point of broiling and the refrigerate/freeze or broil it and then refrigerate/freeze; both work.