Combine macaroni and ground beef for an ample grand meal

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Mac and cheese is a classic, but what it offers in rich, creamy comfort it sometimes lacks in nutrients. Not so with the recipe below! In this delicious casserole recipe, noodles and gooey cheddar cheese sauce are combined with a mixture of lean ground beef, tomatoes, and vegetables. It's the perfect way to add a bit of nutrition — and a lot of flavor — to the traditional dish.
This recipe also offers a bit of heat, thanks to the addition of cayenne pepper. You can add as much or as little as you like to suit the palates of your family. If even a pinch is too much heat, consider using sweet or smoked paprika instead to add depth of flavor to the rich sauce.
Cooktop Cove
Southern ground beef mac and cheese
15 minutes
40 minutes
55 minutes
8 ounces elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound lean ground beef
1 onion, finely diced
1 green bell pepper, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch cayenne pepper
One 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Heat half of the olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the beef and a pinch of salt. Cook until browned on all sides. Remove the beef from the skillet, and drain off the fat.
Add the second tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add the onion and pepper, and season with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cayenne pepper, and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add the tomatoes and the reserved beef, and toss to combine. Cook until the liquid has mostly evaporated, about 5 minutes more. Set aside.
In a saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Sprinkle in the flour, and whisk well to combine. Cook until pasty, about 1-2 minutes.
Drizzle in the milk by the quarter-cupful, whisking continuously, until a thick sauce forms. Remove the sauce from the heat, season with salt and pepper, and whisk in 2 cups of the cheese.
In a large bowl, combine the drained macaroni and the cheese mixture. Fold the beef mixture into the pasta.
Spread the mixture in a greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese, and bake about 20 minutes, until browned and bubbly.
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