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food

Rigatoni in meat sauce

Ingredients
1 lb lean ground beef (I used the kind in the roll)
extra virgin olive oil
garlic salt
1 pkg pre-chopped onions, carrots and celery (mirepoix mix)
Approx 2 oz (1/2 a tube) of Garden Gourmet Chunky Garlic Stir in paste
Several pinches of Gourmet Garden Italian Herbs (lightly dried)
1 large can Cento all-purpose crushed tomatoes
1 lb of whole wheat rigatoni
The better part of 1 lb bag of Kraft Natural Cheese traditional cut mozzerella and cheddar
1/2 cup Kraft Natural Shredded Parmesan (maybe? two good shakes of the container with the wide mouth part of the lid open)
1/2 – 1 package cherry  tomatoes, sliced
VARIATIONS ON THE ABOVE
For people who can’t eat tomatoes – omit ground beef, garlic, Italian herbs, mozzerella and cheddar, and tomatoes, and substitute
1 lb Jimmy Dean mild sausage
2 cups (approx) acorn squash (1 full small squash) roasted with olive oil and Old Bay Lemon and Dill rub
More parmesan cheese
**
This is a THREE POT recipe.
Pot the first, the largest pot:
Fill with water, add 2 shakes of garlic salt and 1-2 pinches of herbs. Leave on back burner to come to a rolling boil. Add pasta, turn the heat down a hair, put a lid on it and let cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring periodically. DO NOT OVERBOIL! You want al dente pasta, at this stage, or else it will be mushy later. Drain the pasta and set aside.
Pot the second, a medium sized pot:
Coat base with extra virgin olive oil, and brown the ground beef. As the meat cooks, squeeze in garlic paste – I made a little ring of paste and then folded the meat with a spatula a couple of times. I think I did this 2-3 times. Add pinches of herbs to taste. (I think I did three? I went with “add herbs until it smells good.”) Add two shakes of shredded parmesan cheese. Fold the meat with the spatula to ensure it cooks through and ingredients are evenly distributed.
Pot the third, a large saucepan:
WHILE THE MEAT IS BROWNING, thoroughly coat the base of a saucepan with olive oil, add the entire carton of mirepoix mix, and simmer until the onions are mostly clear but NOT brown. (Maybe a little brown around the edges of the smaller ones.) Use a spatula to push the mix around as if you are scrambling eggs to make sure everything cooks properly.
Combining the pots:
Once the meat has browned, turn the heat down and stir in the crushed tomatoes, cooked mirepoix mix, and a couple handfuls of shredded mozzerella and cheddar. Stir thoroughly. Add sliced tomatoes to taste. Let simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring periodically, so the cheese will melt evenly. Fold in the drained pasta slowly, stirring periodically.
Transfer to casserole pan, making one more or less even layer of pasta and sauce, topped with a layer of shredded cheese. You could probably bake it for 5-10 minutes right then to melt the cheese, at about 350. OR, you can wait for it to cool, put it in the fridge, and reheat later – by the time the cheese is melted, in theory, the rest should be warmed through and ready to eat.

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