Hands down, the best pasta I've eaten all year!

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When the snow is falling outside and all you want is to wrap yourself in a blanket in front of the fire, this is the perfect dish. Sauteéd lean ground beef is added to a slow cooker with aromatic herbs and vegetables, and finished off with some tender macaroni pasta. Melted cheddar cheese brings this hamburger casserole together in a dish your whole family will love.
Following this recipe will also teach you how to avoid overcooking your pasta and keep it al dente. Nothing is worse than mushy pasta in a casserole.
Cooktop Cove
Slow Cooker Hamburger Macaroni Casserole
10 minutes
4 hours
4 hours 10 minutes
1 pound lean ground beef, 80/20
1 red bell pepper, diced
½ yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
1½ cups skim milk
1 cup fresh spinach, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 cup low-sodium beef stock
1½ cups tomato sauce, homemade or store bought
3 cups uncooked macaroni pasta
1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a medium skillet, combine the ground beef and onion, and sauté until the beef is fully browned and the onions are translucent, 3-5 minutes.
Add contents of the skillet to the slow cooker, along with bell pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic, Italian seasoning, spinach, beef stock, milk, tomato sauce and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
Cover the slow cooker, and cook on high for about 4 hours or low for 7-8 hours.
Ten to 15 minutes before completion, add the dried macaroni pasta to the slow cooker. Stir to distribute pasta throughout the dish. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, top the casserole with shredded cheese. Cover and cook just until the cheese is melted, 2-3 minutes.
Scoop the casserole into individual bowls, garnish with extra cheese or sour cream (optional), and serve hot immediately.
For a creamier casserole, add ⅓ cup heavy cream just before cooking.
Feel free to add bite-size pieces of other veggies to the dish just before cooking for a little more nutrition.
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