Just as quick as Hamburger Helper, but far more wholesome and delicious!
Cumin-Scented Eggplant, Beef and Pasta Casserole
1 pound meium shells, small penne or elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for tossing
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1-2 pounds ground beef (depends how much meat you like)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
One 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/4 cup milk or heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup frozen peas
6 ounces cheese, shredded (2 cups), divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 scallions, thinly sliced
- Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain well and transfer to a bowl. Add a drizzle of olive oil and toss well.
- Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and eggplant and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef and cumin and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the meat is browned and any liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Add the flour and cook until no floury taste remains. Stir in the tomatoes and stock and simmer until thickened, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, about 3 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the macaroni, milk/cream, parsley, peas and 1 cup of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer the mixture to a large ceramic baking dish about 2 inches deep. You canserve as is or, for a cheesier finish, sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheese. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the casserole is bubbling and the cheese is melted. Let stand for 5 minutes. Scatter the scallions on top and serve.