Quick and Easy Meal Ideas

Comfort on a Plate: Cheesy Meat and Pasta Casserole

Comfort on a Plate: Cheesy Meat and Pasta Casserole

Indulge in a heartwarming and satisfying meal with this recipe for Cheesy Meat and Pasta Casserole. Packed with savory flavors, melty cheese, and the comforting goodness of pasta, this casserole is a perfect choice for a cozy family dinner. Let’s dive into the simple steps to create this delicious dish in your own kitchen.


For the Casserole:

  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces pasta (penne or rigatoni), cooked al dente
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil or parsley for garnish (optional)

For the Cheese Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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1. Prepare the Meat Sauce:

  1. Cook the ground beef or turkey in a large skillet over medium heat until browned.
  2. Add chopped onions and minced garlic, cooking until onions are softened.
  3. Add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano, and salt & pepper to taste.
  4. Let the sauce simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes so that the flavors may combine.

2. Cook the Pasta:

  1. Pasta should be cooked as directed on the package until it’s al dente.
  2. Drain and set aside.

3. Make the Cheese Sauce:

  1. Melt butter in a pot over a medium heat.
  2. Add flour and whisk continuously for about 1-2 minutes to create a roux.
  3. Gradually pour in milk while whisking to avoid lumps.
  4. Continue whisking until the mixture thickens.
  5. Stir in shredded cheddar cheese until smooth.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Assemble the Casserole:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked pasta, meat sauce, and half of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
  3. Fill a baking dish with oil and spoon half of the spaghetti mixture into it.
  4. Pour half of the cheese sauce over the pasta layer.
  5. Repeat the layers with the remaining pasta mixture and cheese sauce.
  6. Top the casserole with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

5. Bake to Perfection:

  1. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and brown.
  2. For a golden crust, broil for an extra two to three minutes, if preferred.

6. Garnish and Serve:

  1. Take it out of the oven and give it some time to cool.
  2. Garnish with fresh basil or parsley if desired.
  3. Serve the cheesy meat and pasta casserole while it’s warm and enjoy the comforting flavors.

Tips for a Perfect Casserole:

  1. Vegetable Boost:
    • Sneak in extra veggies like diced bell peppers, mushrooms, or spinach for added nutrition.
  2. Cheese Variety:
    • Experiment with different cheeses, such as Gouda or Monterey Jack, to elevate the flavor profile.
  3. Protein Choices:
    • Substitute ground meat with ground chicken or turkey for a lighter option.
  4. Make-Ahead Convenience:
    • Prepare the casserole in advance and refrigerate until ready to bake.
  5. Customize Seasonings:
    • Adjust the herbs and spices to your liking, incorporating Italian seasoning or red pepper flakes for a kick.
  6. Serve with Sides:
    • Pair the casserole with a crisp green salad or garlic bread for a well-rounded meal.

In Conclusion

This Cheesy Meat and Pasta Casserole is a delightful blend of comforting ingredients, making it a family-friendly favorite. With its cheesy goodness and savory meat sauce, it’s sure to warm hearts and fill bellies. So, gather your ingredients, preheat that oven, and get ready to enjoy the cozy flavors of a homemade casserole. Bon appétit!

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