Simple Baked Beef and Pasta Casserole

Introduction:

Looking for a hearty and satisfying meal that’s easy to prepare and loved by the whole family? Look no further than our Simple Baked Beef and Pasta Casserole. This classic comfort dish combines tender ground beef, savory marinara sauce, and al dente pasta, all baked to perfection with a cheesy topping. Whether you’re cooking for a weeknight dinner or a potluck gathering, this casserole is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Let’s dive into the recipe and discover how to create this comforting dish in your own kitchen.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package penne pasta
  • Water, as needed
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  •  tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar
  •  teaspoon cayenne pepper or chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  •  teaspoon black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Cook the pasta following the directions on the package and drain it
  2. Meanwhile you can cook the meat in the oil in a skillet until cooked through
  3. Drain off any excess fat
  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
  5. Turn the heat down on the stove and mix in the onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper or chili powder, cream cheese, and half the shredded cheddar
  6. Combine the pasta with the beef mixture
  7. Pour this into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish
  8. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar on top
  9. Bake for 15 minutes

Serving:

  1. Freshly Baked Enjoyment: Serve the Simple Baked Beef and Pasta Casserole immediately after it comes out of the oven, while it’s hot and bubbly. This is when the cheese is at its stretchiest and most irresistible.
  2. Garnish: Before serving, consider garnishing the casserole with chopped fresh parsley or basil for a pop of color and added freshness. This not only enhances the presentation but also adds a hint of herbaceous flavor.
  3. Portion Control: Use a sharp knife or a spatula to cut the casserole into equal-sized portions directly in the baking dish. This ensures that each serving receives a generous portion of pasta, beef, and cheese.
  4. Accompaniments: Serve the casserole with a side of garlic bread, a crisp green salad, or steamed vegetables to round out the meal. These accompaniments add texture and variety to the dish, making it a well-rounded and satisfying meal.

Storage:

  1. Refrigeration: If you have leftovers, allow the casserole to cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container or covering the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil. Store the leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  2. Reheating: When ready to enjoy leftover casserole, reheat individual portions in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or until heated through. Alternatively, you can reheat larger portions in the oven at 350°F (175°C) for 15-20 minutes or until warmed to your liking.
  3. Freezing: Simple Baked Beef and Pasta Casserole can also be frozen for longer-term storage. Allow the casserole to cool completely, then portion it into individual servings or freeze the entire dish in a freezer-safe container. It can be frozen for up to 2-3 months.
  4. Thawing: When ready to use frozen casserole, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. This ensures even heating and helps prevent the pasta from becoming mushy.
  5. Refrigerator to Table: For a quick and easy meal, prepare the casserole ahead of time and refrigerate it unbaked. When ready to serve, simply pop it in the oven and bake according to the recipe instructions. This is a convenient option for busy weeknights or when entertaining guests.

FAQs:

1. Can I use different types of pasta for this casserole?

  • Yes, you can use various types of pasta such as penne, rotini, macaroni, or any other shape you prefer. Keep in mind that different shapes may affect the texture of the casserole slightly, but all should work well with the recipe.

2. Can I substitute ground beef with another protein?

  • Absolutely! Ground turkey, chicken, or even plant-based meat alternatives can be used as substitutes for ground beef in this recipe. Adjust cooking times as needed based on the protein used.

3. Can I make this casserole ahead of time?

  • Yes, you can assemble the casserole ahead of time and refrigerate it until ready to bake. This makes it a convenient option for meal prep or entertaining. Just be sure to adjust the baking time accordingly, as the casserole may take slightly longer to cook when chilled.

4. Can I freeze leftover casserole?

  • Yes, Simple Baked Beef and Pasta Casserole freezes well. Once cooled, portion the leftovers into individual servings or freeze the entire dish in a freezer-safe container. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

5. Can I customize this recipe with additional ingredients?

  • Absolutely! Feel free to customize this casserole by adding vegetables like bell peppers, onions, or spinach for extra flavor and nutrition. You can also incorporate herbs, spices, or different types of cheese to suit your taste preferences and make the dish your own.

Conclusion:

Our Simple Baked Beef and Pasta Casserole is the ultimate comfort food that’s perfect for any occasion. With its hearty combination of ground beef, pasta, and gooey cheese, this casserole is sure to satisfy even the pickiest eaters. Plus, it’s a breeze to prepare, making it an ideal choice for busy weeknights when you need a wholesome meal without the hassle. Give our recipe a try and experience the comforting goodness of this classic dish for yourself!