I never remember to buy those expensive package meals, but I bet I can come up with something just as good (better?) on my own. So what’s in the kitchen?
- One pound of hamburger
- Eight ounces of dry macaroni or egg noodles
- One tablespoon* all-purpose flour
- One 6 ounce can tomato paste
- Three and a half cups hot water
- One cup grated cheese
- Salt, pepper, and spices to taste
*You’re making a rue, so you may need more flour. For more info on rue, check out my Gravy post.
1. Brown hamburger in a large skillet. Remove all but about a tablespoon of the resulting grease. If it’s super lean, you can add up to a tablespoon of olive oil to make the rue.2. Add flour to grease. You can leave the hamburger in the skillet–just push it over to the side. Make your rue by cooking the flour/grease combo over a very low heat until it’s light tan, then stir it in with the burger to lightly coat it.
3. Stir in all other ingredients except cheese. I used Italian spices–oregano, basil, garlic–and mozzarella cheese (which comes later) for something closer to the lasagna variety. You could also use taco spices, such as cumin and chile powder, and a Mexican cheese blend for something closer to the taco variety.4. Turn heat up and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.5. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 10-13 minutes, stirring occasionally until pasta is al dente.
5. Remove from heat, stir in cheese, and cover for 5 minutes to allow it all to set up.
So what’s better in my version? Well, it’s certainly cheaper than the brand name version and it won’t take much longer to make. But best of all, you have control over all of the ingredients. So you can cut out the nasty preservatives, fillers and colorings found in packaged food.