The Best Casserole

by Mara @ What's For Dinner? on February 7, 2012

in beef, family recipe, South Beach Diet

I’m a huge fan of the casserole. In general, I love the process of putting a few key ingredients together in a pan, baking said pan, and coming out with a pan of perfectly melded flavors.

We weren’t a big casserole family when I was younger, but there was one specific casserole that my mom would make that I would look forward to each and every winter. It has a specific flavor and texture that I couldn’t replicate no matter how many times I tried… turns out I was doing it wrong. I got the real recipe from my mom a few years ago, and have made it a few times since.

neapolitan casserole

Noodles, tomato, bacon, ground beef, parmesan cheese, and a few veggies come together to make something that is so much greater than the sum of its parts. I used extra-lean ground beef and center-cut bacon, but ground turkey and turkey bacon could be substituted and no flavor would be sacrificed.

Neapolitan Casserole

Adapted from the Antoinette Pope Cookbook

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 1 lb. ground beef or turkey
  • 1 lb. whole wheat pasta, cooked and kept hot
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 5-6 strips bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced (I left these out)
  • parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350*. Heat a large frying pan and add the pieces of bacon. Cook until crispy, and add the onion and peppers.

Cook until onions are translucent and peppers are softened. Add the mushrooms and cook a few minutes.

Add the ground beef or turkey. Cook until meat is cooked through.

In a casserole dish, put 1/3 of the cooked pasta, 1/2 the meat, and a generous sprinkle of parmesan.

Repeat with another third of the pasta, the rest of the meat, and more parmesan. End with the pasta.

In a separate vessel, mix together the tomato paste, water, and baking soda. Be careful, as it will froth up! Pour the tomato mixture on top of the meat and noodles and bake for about 25 minutes.

Top each serving with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

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neapolitan casserole
I know, you can see the reflection of the ceiling fan in my spoon. But I had to show you, grated parmesan cheese really works best here. My mom always used what we called “shaky cheese”, or more commonly known as the shelf-stable parmesan found most commonly in a green can.
neapolitan casserole
It truly never ceases to amaze me the comfort I find in replicating recipes from my childhood. I’m ready to snuggle up for the night and relax! I just wish my mom could bring me a mug of warm vanilla milk… oh well.
xoxo
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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Lara February 7, 2012 at 8:01 PM

Would you believe that I’ve never made a real casserole?! I’ll bookmark this one and have it be my first :)

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Mara @ What's For Dinner? February 8, 2012 at 10:28 AM

DOOO ITTT!!!!

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Hallie February 7, 2012 at 8:27 PM

We called it sprinkle cheese! Awesome.

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Becki's Whole Life February 7, 2012 at 9:01 PM

This reminds me of my mom’s goulash. I love all of the flavors in here!
Becki’s Whole Life´s last blog post ..Avocado Pico de Gallo

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mom February 7, 2012 at 9:54 PM

so weird… i made this last week after a loooong hiatus.

Love you, sweetie!

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Mara @ What's For Dinner? February 8, 2012 at 10:20 AM

Very weird…and kind of not. We know what we like!

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Jenn@slim-shoppin February 8, 2012 at 7:41 AM

Mara – that sounds awesome!
Jenn@slim-shoppin´s last blog post ..Future Food Network Star?

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Hezzi-D February 8, 2012 at 8:01 AM

This looks delicious! I bet the combination of bacon, ground beef, and veggies is amazing!

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Biz February 8, 2012 at 9:37 AM

That is very similar to a dish my Mom made growing up, but she called it “slumgulion.” It had elbow macaroni, beef, green pepper (ONIONS!). I am sure my Mom made it to stretch out beef for our family – and now Hannah loves it to. In fact, whenever Hannah goes to my Mom’s house she asks her to make it – with extra onions!
Biz´s last blog post ..No Excuses – 19 in 3

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Mara @ What's For Dinner? February 8, 2012 at 10:20 AM

I don’t get the whole “no onions” thing :) They’re so delicious!!

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Amy February 8, 2012 at 9:48 AM

Mara – if you are still counting Carbs you should try Dreamfields Pasta. It’s all we eat and you KNOW I’m picky about my pasta. It’s ok’ed for diabetics and the net carbs is only 4-5 per serving. It has good texture and when cooked to al dente is as good as Barilla or other Italian brands.. just a thought!!
I’m with you on casseroles, love ‘em. So will give this one a whirl soon.
Thanks for the inspiration.
Amy
Amy´s last blog post ..Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Chia Seeds

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Mara @ What's For Dinner? February 8, 2012 at 10:19 AM

Amy, that is SO good to know. I’m always hesitant to buy the low-carb pastas because generally, they stink. Is Dreamfields the one in the red box??

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Amy February 8, 2012 at 10:28 AM

Black box with some red and yellow…
http://www.dreamfieldsfoods.com/

They say …
About the same high fiber as whole wheat pasta
Only 5 grams of digestible carbohydrate
65% lower glycemic index (GI) than traditional pastas
Dreamfields GI =13
Traditional pasta GI = 38
All of these qualities translate into a lower blood glucose rise after eating Dreamfields as compared to eating the same amount of traditional white pasta. You can truly have your Dreamfields pasta and enjoy it too…without feeling guilty or compromising blood glucose control.
Amy´s last blog post ..Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Chia Seeds

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Roz@weightingfor50 February 8, 2012 at 1:50 PM

This looks like such a throwback to my childhood. My mom didn’t make many casseroles, but this is similar to a dish she made, and my brother and I used to fight over the “crusty part” on the top. Have a great day Mara.
Roz@weightingfor50´s last blog post ..Making the ordinary, extraordinary

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Carole February 7, 2013 at 2:29 PM

Hi there. The current Food on Friday on Carole’s Chatter is all about favourite foods from childhood. I do hope you link this lovely one in. This is the link . Please do pop back to check out some of the other links. Have a great week.

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Mara @ What's For Dinner? February 7, 2013 at 4:33 PM

I think I will! Thanks!

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Carole February 7, 2013 at 7:42 PM

Mara, thank you for linking this in to Food on Friday. We are now getting a super collection of dishes we loved as kids together. I hope you have stopped by some of the other links to check them out!

Ps I have just signed up to follow your blog. A follow back to Carole’s Chatter would be wonderful – or have you already followed? Cheers

Ps If you would like email reminders of future Food on Fridays, just pop by and comment and include your email – I won’t publish it – and the reminder will be by bcc so it will remain private
Carole´s last blog post ..Fishing is a real skill….

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