Well....when this recipe first began, I certainly did not expect this dish. No, absolutely not. It all started with the beginning of a simple Marinara Sauce. Then work intervened. The Marinara went into the fridge.
Then began the lean ground beef and cheese mixture...still not sure where this was going to go. Then the now forgotten Marinara Sauce....next thing you know - a healthier version of Mac and Cheese. DH loved it - in fact three helpings later...
2 Tblsp. Olive Oil
1 onion, finely diced
3 finely minced garlic cloves
28 oz. can whole Tomatoes and Juice: cut the tomatoes into bite sized pieces
1 Bay Leaf
1 Tsp. dried Basil
1/2 Tsp. ground Fennel
1/2 Tsp. Italian Seasoning
Salt and Pepper
Splash of Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 a zucchini - finely chopped
1 pkg. Tinkyada Brown Rice Macaroni Pasta
Heat up a saute pan on low medium heat with the Olive oil. Add in the minced onion, and garlic. Saute, seasoning with salt and pepper about 5 minutes. Pour in the cut tomatoes and juice. Season with the Basil, Fennel, Italian Seasoning, and Bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Add in the splash of Balsamic Vinegar.
Continue to simmer on low, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Once cooled, remove the Bay Leaf, and add to a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. Transfer to a medium sauce pan, or in my case with a busy day, refrigerate.
Meat for Marinara Sauce:
1 lb. Lean Antibiotic/Hormone Free Ground Beef
1 small onion
4 minced garlic cloves
1/2 a celery stalk with leaves
2 Tblsp. Fresh Minced Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp. dried Basil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups grated Aged Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
Heat up a frying pan on medium heat. Add the ground beef, cutting up the meat with a spoon. Brown the meat well, then drain any renderings. Meanwhile, using a Food Processor on the fine grate attachment, grate the onion, garlic and celery, to a fine grind. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Using the same attachment, add in chunks of aged cheddar cheese - grate until you have about 1 1/2 cups worth, and set aside.
Once the meat is browned, add in the minced onion, garlic and celery - saute about 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat, and transfer the meat to a bowl. Add in the cheeses, and minced Parsley, stirring to combine, the set aside.
Add the Marinara Sauce to a pan on low medium heat, bringing to a simmer. Then add in the diced zucchini, lid on and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add in Gluten Free Macaroni, and cook for 8 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Drain the pasta.
Add the meat mixture to the Marinara Sauce, mixing well to combine. Then add the drained pasta, stirring well.
Transfer to a casserole dish, and add an extra sprinkling of Parmesan cheese throughout.
Cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes.
With this amount, you would think it would serve 6. Well, not in this household, 3 helpings later for DH... so maybe 4 or 5 helpings if you did not have piggies in the household like we did...Mercy!
As backwards as this crazy dish was, a dish that had no direction what so ever, it still turned out yummy. 🙂