MACARONI ‘N' BEEF BAKE
- 1 cup elbow macaroni
- Water as needed
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (optional)
- 1 pound lean ground beef or uncooked ground chicken or turkey
- 1/4 cup chopped peeled onion
- 1/4 cup chopped green pepper,or 2 tablespoons each chopped sweet red or yellow (or 1 tablespoon each) and green pepper
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 (14½ to 16-ounce) can tomatoes or diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar or American cheese or cheese-blend of choice,or shredded reduced-fat cheese of choice
- 1 tablespoon finely snipped fresh oregano leaves or ½ to 1 teaspoon dried oregano or to taste
- Salt and freshly ground black or white pepper to taste
- Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese as desired for garnish
Cook macaroni according to package directions. Rinse in cold running water; drain well and set aside.
In a medium heavy skillet, heat oil (or liberally coat skillet with non-caloric vegetable cooking spray) over moderate heat; add ground beef or chicken or turkey and sauté, stirring frequently, until lightly browned. Add onion and green pepper and continue sautéing until crisp tender, but not browned. Stir in flour, blending well. Stir in tomatoes, seasonings, and macaroni, mixing gently but well.
Spoon half of the macaroni/tomato mixture into a greased 2-quart casserole; evenly top with half of the shredded cheese. Top with remaining macaroni/tomato mixture. Bake, loosely covered with aluminum foil, in a preheated moderate oven (350 degrees F.) for 20 minutes. Evenly sprinkle remaining shredded cheese and then grated Parmesan or Romano cheese over casserole and continue baking, uncovered, for 5 to 8 minutes or until shredded cheese is melted and grated cheese is lightly browned.
Variations: Add 1 tablespoon finely snipped fresh basil leaves to mixture. Omit shredded cheese of choice and add 1 to 1½ cup(s) cubed feta or other goat cheese to macaroni mixture. May or may not add grated Parmesan or Romano cheese to top of casserole as desired. May add Greek seasoning to taste as desired.