This was a recipe that I made up during grad school to feed a group of gaming friends. So I was a lot younger and could stand the high calories back then. Well not really, but I tell myself that. It can evolve over time and there are many more like it out there. A lot of variations in the ingredients so you can run with it yourself and or try new things yourself.
Here is a list of the basic ingredients. You can make or configure it how you wish.
- Mozzarella Cheese – 3/4-1 lb shredded
- 1 lb Firm Pasta – Elbow used this time but have used penne before
- Pasta Sauce – Used the Packet & Tomato Paste this time but a Jar of pre-made sauce will work.
- Diced Tomatoes – 1 can
- Italian Seasoning – I like to add a little more than what comes in the packet or jar of sauce
- Hamburger – 1 lb browned
Here are some more ingredients. Some I think should always be there but it is based on your taste.
- Black Olives – 1 can, drained
- Mushrooms – 1 small can, drained
- Minced Garlic – Not really optional in my opinion
- Sautéed Onions – 1/2 to 1 Medium White or Yellow Onion
- Ricotta or Cottage Cheese – Cut back on Mozzarella added to sauce
- Cheddar Cheese – Shredded, again if you use this cut back on the amount of Mozzarella
- Crushed Red Peppers – To taste, add to sauce when cooking, I didn’t add this time because of House Mates
I used the following:
- Pot and Strainer for Pasta
- Skillet for Hamburger Meat
- Large Spoon for stirring/serving
- Crock Pot
This dish takes a some time to cook. Mainly because of the time for the sauce to cook before adding all the rest of the ingredients.
First get the crock pot out and make your sauce in it. If you are using the packet sauce, like I did this time, mixed up like the packet says. Then add the diced tomatoes and hamburger to it. If you are adding other ingredients to the sauce add those too (onions, garlic, olives, mushrooms, spices, not cheese). You want the sauce to be a little runny once cooked. So don’t worry if it does not thickened up. That is a good thing.
Once the sauce has had some time to cook you will want to start the pasta. Cook the pasta until just al dente. You want to have it finish cooking in the crock pot and to absorb some of the extra fluid of the sauce. Once cooked add it directly to the crock pot and sauce. Stir the pasta into the sauce and let cook for about 10 more minutes.
Finally stir in most of the cheese into the pasta/sauce mixture. You will want to keep enough cheese out to cover the top (see picture). If you use something other than Shredded Mozzarella or Cheddar cheese you may want to stir that in at the same time as the pasta to let it have a little more cook time. Replace the crock pot lid and let it sit until the cheese has fully melted. Once melted it is time to eat.
I haven’t used many toppings in the past. It is mainly come and eat it, give me a plate or bowl kind of food. Here are some suggestions that you might like, if you want to add something a little more.
- Bacon, ALWAYS BACON… I actually have never done it but crumbled bacon would be good on top. It would give it an extra crunch that might be needed.
- Parmesan Cheese – It is a pasta dish after all.
- Green Onions – diced
You really need to eat some veggies with this as it is really heavy, lots of cheese and pasta. So I would suggest anything you typically have with lasagna.
- Green Beans
- Garlic Bread
Summing It Up
My house mate love it and has pretty much finished off the leftovers. It makes a lot so should feed a good-sized family, especially if you have sides. So relax, don’t worry and have ABigBeer. I would probably drink a crisp IPA with this.
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