I wiped away the weeds & foam. / I fetched my sea-born treasures home... Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, March 2, 2012

Something for the Weekend

Hi! It's Friday and a chilly March evening here at the beach.
Should we cook? Something?
I got these very beautiful Italian tomatoes at Trader Joe's last week....

My blog friend Margaret challenged me to tell you what I'd make with a package of ground beef, a box of pasta, and an assortment of spices.

Hmmm. Probably I'd make meatloaf and serve it with the pasta, just a bit of butter and parm? Meatloaf recipe another time, because today we'll make my grandma's goulash. Not like James Beard's authentic Hungarian goulash which we'll also make another time....

This is my grandma's old fashioned Hamburger Helper-ish recipe, and in fact my mom could not bear to call it goulash, she just called it Grandma's Dish, lol.
My grandma always had this on the stove when we'd drive up to northern Ohio for Thanksgiving, arriving for dinner on Wednesday night, I guess. I think my brother and I liked this dish better than the turkey! It is hot and fragrant and yummy..and very retro, old-fashioned.

I like to make a big pot of it for winter weekends when I know I want to be busy quilting not cooking.

Do NOT overcook the pasta! Please.

In a large cast iron deep pan, like my trusty le Creuset pot, in a little olive oil, brown 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef.* I use half ground sirloin,half chuck, from my butcher so I know what is in the ground meat....along with one large minced Vidalia [sweet] onion, 5 or 6 cloves of finely minced garlic. Be sure to get it brown and crumbly but not tiny, maybe the size of gambling dice? Drain off excess fat.
*Maybe try ground turkey?

Add: 1 large can of Italian, peeled plum tomatoes, chop them up if they're whole, rinse them slightly if packed in puree. I had these two smaller cans on hand. I like to think the bright red tomatoes make this a slightly healthy meal....

Add: 1 box of gutsy pasta, i.e rigatoni, shells, mostacioli...though my grandma used Mueller's elbow macaroni sometimes too. If you're being very frugal, you may instead use up all the end boxes of pasta leftover in your pantry, mix 'em up.

Add: Just enough water to barely cover the pasta.

Add: a pinch of salt, a lot of black pepper, parsley, a pinch of sugar or Splenda [to de-acidify the tomatoes]. Do NOT add fine Italian spices like basil or oregano. If you didn't have the fresh garlic onion, add dried now. In fact, add some garlic powder just for the heck of it, Grandma always did!

Bring to a simmer, turn down the heat to a low simmer, stir now and then, until the pasta is just al dente. There should be some liquid left in the pot, it should not cook all dry. Add a little water if it needs it.
Do not over cook it!

That's it!  Serve in bowls [in front of the TV?]. You can add parm if you want but it is not an authentic amenity. I usually also serve a large green salad---or steamed brocolli, just because  we like our green veggies a lot...

Makes loads! Reheats great, even edible cold if the power is out in a snow storm.


Margaret, let me know if you like it!

BTW, I thought these cans were so great! Love the colors and the graphics....

---so I carefully washed them and sprayed them with clear sealant. Now they can be herb pots! Maybe fun hostess gifts next summer, filled with farmer's market fresh herbs or summer field flowers. I love finding a re-use for a pretty jar or can, don't you?



~~~~~gone to the beach