After reading through all the meals you've made so often that they've become permanently committed to memory, we thought we'd share one of our own!
This is one of those go-to weeknight meals that we can throw together with our eyes closed and one hand behind our back. Chewy pasta and gooey cheese are balanced out by a big helping of veggies. Add in a spicy kick and everyone leaves happy. Most of the ingredients are pantry staples at our house, and there's plenty of flexibility in the recipe to throw in whatever happens to be in season or on hand.
If you'd like to save yourself an extra step, you can actually cook the pasta right in the skillet along with the ragu. Add it in with the tomatoes, along with an extra 1/2 cup of water. The pasta will absorb the flavorful cooking liquid and release starch, making the dish extra creamy!
Southwest Skillet Ragu
serves 4 to 6
1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 cup elbow macaroni
1 large onion, diced
1 red (green, orange, or yellow) pepper, chopped
1 package (12 ounces) white or baby bella mushrooms, quartered
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juices
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper
Heat a teaspoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet or dutch oven that will be deep enough to hold everything. Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink (about 8 minutes). Remove the ground beef to a plate. Pour off any extra grease, leaving behind just enough to film the bottom of the pan.
While the beef is cooking, bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt the water, and cook the pasta until it's barely al dente and still a little chewy. Drain the pasta and set it aside.
Cook the onions until they are soft, translucent, and beginning to brown (about 5 minutes). Add the mushrooms, and cook until they have released all their liquid and turned golden brown (about 5 minutes). Add the peppers, spices, and salt, and continue to saute until veggies are mostly cooked (about 3 minutes).
Pour tomatoes with their juices into the pan and bring to a boil. Add the hamburger back into the pan, and simmer until the liquid has reduced and thickened.
Stir in the cheese and the pasta, and stir until the cheese is melted and gooey. Spoon into individual bowls, top with an extra sprinkle of cheese, and serve!
(Images: Emma Christensen)