Or maybe something you might have eaten in college on the way home from a party at 3am, from the hot bar at the local 7-11. Not that I would know, since when I was in college I spent my entire weekends, you know, studying. More truthfully, I went to college in Pennsylvania and we didn’t actually have a 7-11. We did, however, have a bagel shop that stayed open until the wee hours and if you are reading this and you went to college with me then stop what you’re doing right now and make yourself a veggie melt on a blueberry bagel.
This pasta dish? It might sound lowbrow but it’s really, really good. I ate it for dinner four days in a row and I still think it’s good. I will admit that by Day 4 I was getting a little sick of looking at it, but I wasn’t sick of eating it, that’s for sure .
Before you write me off as a sell-out to the cheese, beef and noodle industries, hear me out. This recipe is everything you could ever want in a dish: it tastes fattening, it is not fattening (lean beef! whole wheat pasta!) and it is cheap – you only need a few ingredients, some of which you probably already own. Really. And it’s easy. If you can boil water for pasta you can probably handle whipping this up on a freezing cold weeknight when you’re thisclose to crawling into bed and staying there until April.
Cheese, Beef & Noodle Casserole
Serves 8 (generous portions)
Adapted from Weight Watchers One Pot Cookbook
What You Need:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound ground lean beef
6 cups (12 ounces) cooked whole wheat penne pasta
2 cups fat-free or low-fat marinara sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3/4 cup shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack Cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Heat olive oil in an oven-safe skillet or casserole dish dish over medium heat (I used my cast iron but if you don’t have one, use a regular skillet and transfer the pasta from the pan to an oven-safe dish before you bake). Add the onion, garlic and pepper flakes and stir to combine. Cook until onion is softened. Add beef and cook for approximately ten minutes or until meat is completely browned.
Stir cooked penne, marinara sauce, 1/2 cup monterey jack cheese and parsley into the beef mixture. If you are using an oven safe dish, spread the remaining cheese on top of the mixture. If you need to transfer this from your pot/skillet to a casserole dish, do so first and then add the remaining cheese. Place the dish in the preheated oven and bake until cheese is melted and filling bubbly, approximately 20 minutes.Print This Recipe