Tender noodles, gooey warm cheese, and hearty ground beef nestled in a casserole always garners hungry groans when presented at the dinner table. Made with toothsome whole wheat noodles, a modest amount of cheese, and lean ground beef, the following cheesy beef and macaroni casserole recipe will deliciously live up to its comfort food rank and also please the nutritous-seeking palates of your diet-conscious guests.
Cheesy Beef and Macaroni Casserole
1 pound hot or sweet turkey sausage, casings removed
1 pound extra lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes, drained, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound whole wheat penne pasta, cooked, drained, warm
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian or flat-leaf parsley
4 to 5 cups shredded fontina cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sausage, beef, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up meats, until sausage and beef are browned.
3. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste and cayenne and and bring to a simmer. As mixture gets hot, break up tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Add cooked penne, Parmesan and parsley and toss until well-combined. Transfer to prepared baking dish and sprinkle with fontina. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
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