There are some casserole recipes that feel like classics from the moment that their aromas begin to fill the kitchen. This beef noodle casserole is most definitely one of those recipes. The combination of toasted fennel seeds and thyme with hearty tomatoes, savory chicken stock and grated provolone cheese are perfectly paired with ground beef to create a dinner that is bound to become a new family classic.
Beef noodle casseroles are commonplace in the casserole world, but this one truly stands out in terms of ease and accessibility of ingredients. This casserole is also incredibly adaptable to the utilization of leftovers -- for instance, you can easily substitute in diced chicken breasts in place of the beef, just be sure to brown them quickly for 5 minutes before assembling the dish.
Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and lightly grease a 3-quart casserole dish or 9" x 13" casserole pan. Pour the egg noodles, uncooked, into the bottom of the casserole dish.
Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Place the chopped onion into the pan with the salt, pepper, chili flakes, thyme and fennel seeds. Cook until the onions are translucent and the spices aromatic. Add the ground beef and cook until browned.
Pour the beef into the casserole dish over the egg noodles. Pour in the chopped tomatoes, chicken stock, mushrooms and chopped green beans. and combine everything in the dish with a wooden spoon.
Cover tightly with foil and place into the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove after 15 minutes and sprinkle the cheese over the top. Cover and return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes until the pasta is tender and cooked through.
Pro tip: This dish freezes wonderfully. For a great freezer trick, place any leftovers into a large ziplock bag and seal tightly. Lay the ziplock bag flat in the freezer, and using the back of a butter knife, make a cross-shaped indent in the bag. This will allow you to break off individual portions once frozen to reheat. Keep frozen for up to 3 months.