"Forgive me for getting a little 'cheesy' here, but -that's just what this one-dish wonder is all about: cheese," Venable writes in his just-released cookbook, "In the Kitchen with David." ''Everything we love about melted cheese — rich, ooey, gooeyness — is right here in this cheeseburger casserole. It's easy to make, can be put together ahead and frozen, and it's kid-friendly. For kids of all ages, that is."
CHEESY CHEESEBURGER CASSEROLE
Start to finish: 1 hour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
16-ounce package elbow macaroni
2 pounds ground beef
1 large yellow onion, chopped
Two 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup (8 ounces) ricotta cheese
1/4 cup (2 ounces) sour cream
1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/3 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Heat the oven to 350 F.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of the salt and the macaroni and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, 7 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and onion and cook, stirring, until the beef is well browned. Carefully drain the fat from the skillet, then stir in the tomato sauce, the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, and the black pepper. Bring to a simmer over low heat while preparing the remaining ingredients.
In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, sour cream, bell pepper and scallions. Spread half of the pasta in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with the ricotta mixture, then the remaining pasta. Pour the meat mixture over the top. Sprinkle with the cheddar and mozzarella.
Bake the casserole until the cheese is melted and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley before serving.
Nutrition information per serving: 700 calories; 230 calories from fat (33 per cent of total calories); 25 g fat (12 g saturated; 1 g trans fats); 130 mg cholesterol; 67 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 8 g sugar; 51 g protein; 1280 mg sodium.
(Recipe from Dave Venable's "In the Kitchen with David," Ballantine Books, 2012)