Friday, February 17, 2012

Italian Macaroni and Cheese

(This recipe was originally posted in conjunction with the Meijer Ad Week of 2/19/12 - 2/25/12)
Don't let the kid-friendly name of this delicious casserole fool you...although it IS kid-friendly, it has enough of an adult taste to keep everyone happy!

1 lb ground beef
1 - 16 oz can diced tomatoes (plain, not Italian or "with chilies")
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 Tbsp dry minced onion
1/4 cup water
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
dash of pepper
2 cups medium-sized seashell pasta
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese (or more)

Brown and drain the ground beef.  Add tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, water, sugar, garlic salt, oregano, Italian seasoning, and pepper to the cooked ground beef.  Cook and stir until it starts to bubble.  Cover, and simmer SLOWLY for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile, cook and drain the seashell pasta.  Combine the pasta with the cottage cheese.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spread a small amount of meat sauce in a greased 2 1/2 - 3 qt casserole dish.  Top with half the seashell pasta/cottage cheese mixture, half the shredded sharp cheddar, and half the remaining meat sauce.  Repeat layers, ending with meat sauce, and making sure no pasta is left uncovered.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on the top.   Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes.  Serve with garlic bread and salad or applesauce.

Options and Tips
  • This casserole freezes extremely well, so make a double batch and freeze one for later.
  • If you run out of meat sauce as you are layering, don't be afraid to throw a little spaghetti sauce on the top.  It doesn't really change the flavor of the casserole too much, and dried out noodles are kind of yucky!  If you only use a 1/2 cup or so out of the jar of spaghetti sauce, just freeze the rest of the sauce right in the jar (unless you plan to use it later in the week). 

    This recipe in its original form can be found on page 219 of Heritage Christian School's "Favorite Family Recipes" cookbook.  I made a few adjustments to the measurements and instructions.  The original recipe was submitted by my mom.  Maybe she should just take over this blog since so many of my recipes are from her anyway!  :) 

    This recipe is linked to the Recipe Roundtable over at Sarah's Deals.
    This recipe is linked to Meals4Sharing over at Eat2Gather.


  1. This casserole is so yummy! I always freeze half so I have an easy meal for another time.

  2. I made this past week! I will make it again.It was very tasty and it froze well!

  3. Lisa, do you measure the 2 cups of pasta cooked or uncooked?? This has always confused me when I see it in recipes :) What I if I want to double it, how does a 16oz box of pasta fit into the scenario? Again, if I double it, is 16 oz cottage cheese enough or more? Could I use Ricotta cheese instead?? Sorry for the questions, thanks!!

    1. Oh my, I didn't realize I hadn't clarified that! The original recipe says "2 C of cooked shell pasta" but I never felt like that was quite enough, so I always used 2 C of uncooked. They plump up a little bit to create a larger measurement, but it works out fine. If you want to double it, a 16 oz box should be just about right...or close enough :) If you want to double the cottage cheese, you will need a 32 oz container. Ricotta cheese can generally be substituted for cottage cheese in most Italian-style just depends on what texture you prefer.

    2. P.S. Most recipes should specify whether the amount of pasta is "cooked" or "uncooked"...including mine! :)