When I chose this recipe, I was frustrated. It had been a long day, I had no inspiration to cook, and I felt irritated with everything. “Screw it,” I thought. “I’m making Last Resort Casserole.” As it turns out, the name is quite apt: this is exactly the right thing to make as a last resort. It is flavorful, wonderfully cheesy, and a good family comfort food. I am usually suspicious of any recipe that relies too heavily on cream of [whatever] soup, but this one holds its own. Gourmet food? No. Inexpensive easy dinner? Yes.
A note on measuring pasta: the original recipe calls for 1 cup of dried macaroni. You don’t have to use macaroni: any pasta you have in the kitchen is just fine. I happened to have some larger whole wheat pasta lying around, so I used that. However, take into account when measuring your pasta that size matters. If your recipe calls for 1 cup of small shells, but you only have large shells, scale up. Use 1 1/2 cups. The larger the pasta shape, the less densely it will pack into your measuring cup, and the more you will have to use as a result.
…Of course, you could always simply weigh the ingredient, and measure in that manner. Not everyone has a kitchen scale, though, so I am trying to keep things “low tech” whenever possible.
Also, the final picture here looks a little greasy. I promise, the food doesn’t quite come out that way. It’s the lighting in my kitchen. :)
- 1 cup dried macaroni (or pasta of your choice)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 beef bouillon cube, crumbled
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 8 ounces grated cheese (cheddar, jack, whatever you like)
- 2/3 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large pot, boil the pasta until al dente, 7-10 minutes depending on your pasta.
Drain the pasta, and transfer it into a greased 13” x 9” casserole dish.
In a large skillet, cook the onion and green pepper in the olive oil over medium heat until the vegetables are lightly browned.
Add the ground beef to the skillet, and cook until browned.
Add the salt, pepper, oregano, garlic, and bouillon cube, and mix well.
Add the soup to the skillet, and thin with 1/2 can of water. The mixture won’t look very appealing at this point. I remember being worried, and commenting to my SO, “This looks like something the cat threw up.” Have faith: it will look better as a casserole, and the flavor will be just fine.
Stir well, and allow the mixture to thicken.
Pour the meat mixture over the pasta in the casserole dish, and mix well.
Top the casserole with the grated cheese.
Pour the milk evenly over the top of the casserole. (I wanted to get an “action shot” of this step, but it is singularly difficult to evenly pour milk with one hand while taking a picture with the other.)
Cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil, and make a few slits to allow steam to escape.
Bake for 20-30 minutes.
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