Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pasta "casserole"ala Mom

When she got out of college, my mother wasn't much of a cook.   Her mother had done all the cooking growing up. But my mother was determined to teach herself how to cook. She understood "chemistry." I have letters written from her to her grandmother bragging about the first Jell-O salad she made!

Because Mom worked (one of the few in her group of women that did), she needed to throw things together quickly. Casseroles were a mainstay for us.  Luckily she loved pasta. {So did we.} And she adored vegetables. Often she would just chop things up and they'd all go into the meal.

In her honor, I decided to make a throw-together meal like she used to make. My tools are better. I have this fabulous "simple" chopper. It cost pennies to purchase -- I bought it at one of those home cookware events -- and it saves me countless time.

Note, this is a great way to hide vegetables for kids. Chop them up fine and they cook down so that kids don't really "see" them.



2 cups cooked gluten-free rigatoni (according to package) (I use Bionature)
1 pound ground beef
½ yellow onion, chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped (seeds removed)
1 zucchini (chopped fine)
1 clove garlic (chopped)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon white pepper
½ to 1 cup Parmesan cheese


Cook rigatoni according to the package directions. {May be made ahead and heated at serving by dunking in boiling water quickly.} {Yes, for those who can eat regular pasta, go right ahead!}

In a low-temperature skillet, place hamburger. Chop into bits. Let brown for about 5-10 minutes. Add onion, garlic, tomatoes, zucchini, herbs, sugar and pepper. Stir and let cook, at 200 degrees or low-low heat, for one hour.

When ready to serve, toss rigatoni with meat mixture.  Divide on four plates. Sprinkle with Parmesan. {Note: there is salt in Parmesan cheese.}


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  1. I could even sneak some veggies into my *husband's* dinner with this method! He's not a huge fan which is ironic since his family has owned a wholesale produce company since 1896! I want to know more about that chopper...sounds like a real time saver.

    1. Peg, I bought this chopper at what I now remember was a Gourmet Pantry party, but I can't find that anywhere online so it means it must have vanished. Sad. Because there were some great selections. However I did a little morning sleuthing, and I think the TV Kitchen Magic Chopper looks identical and it's less than $11. What I have is truly a one action thing. Put cut up vegetables on a platter, cover with this doodad, and press down. Chop, chop, chop. It's actually very therapeutic.


  2. I used to be sneaky like that and hide the veggies in the sauces and even desserts for my kiddos when they were small.

    I own a chopper just like yours!

    That pasta dish looks to die for. I'm a huge pasta fan anyway so girl...I'm swipin' your recipe. Thanks :o)

    God bless ya and have yourself a sunshiny kinday day!!!

  3. Nezzy, I hide them in desserts too, like zucchini bread and such. Hard to hide broccoli in ice cream! LOL


  4. This sounds wonderful. Only 200 degrees? Hmm, I guess most of it is already cooked. I bet it tastes a lot like spaghetti and meatballs. : )

    ~ Krista

    1. Yep, Krista, that low simmer so nothing gets tough. It does taste like spaghetti and meatballs...light. :0