First - sorry it's been so long since you've heard from me! We have been so busy this past week! We visited with my side of the family in Lake Keeowee and had the most perfect view of the eclipse last weekend, then Ryan started a new position on Tuesday, and I began substitute teaching again on Thursday. I've been so busy juggling all of that and finalizing our plans for visiting Germany in a few weeks that while I have been cooking (don't worry!), I haven't had the time to sit down and write it all out for y'all. Please forgive me and try this recipe!
I decided to pick a quick, easy, and minimal effort dish to give y'all as a reflection of what our life has been like this week. Have you ever had company casserole? This was a dish my grandmother made for us all the time growing up and it has always been one of my favorites. I like to tell people that it's basically a spaghetti casserole - ground beef, tomato sauce, noodles, and cheese. I wanted to make my version low carb and used shirataki noodles for the first time. The result was almost, and I really do mean almost, like 99.99%, exactly like the real thing. If you want the traditional carby goodness, use egg noodles or bowtie pasta to get the perfect chewy texture and a hefty noodle to hold the sauce and cheese. This ain't for angel hair, folks!
Ingredients: 3 packages of fettucine shirataki noodles*, 1 lb ground beef, 1 small can of tomato sauce (I like to buy the low-sodium or no salt added, so I can control the amount of salt in my dish), 8 oz. cream cheese, and 16 oz. cottage cheese.
*Shirataki noodles can be found in the produce section, usually near the pre-made salads and vegan cheese.
Bring the cheeses to room temperature (or as close to it) at least 2 hours before cooking. If you're pressed for time, soften the cream cheese in the microwave so it will mix well with the cottage cheese.
When you're ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350 and start browning the beef.
When the beef is browned all the way through, drain the fat and discard it once it's cooled.
Add a pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp of garlic powder, and the can of the tomato sauce to the beef. Stir over low heat until well combined. This mixture can sit at room temperature until ready to assemble the casserole.
Next, prepare the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and rinse them really well. Then boil for 3 minutes, drain again, and lay on paper towels to dry out.
I like to bring my water to boil while the beef is browning, then while it's simmering and getting saucy, I cook the noodles. This way, both the noodles and the beef are ready to go at the same time.
Now it's assembly time!
Combine the two cheeses into a smooth mixture - this is where room temperature helps.
By the way, bringing the cheeses to room temperature is the only thing that needs to be done somewhat in advance for this recipe. The beef can be done earlier in the day, the night before, or can be leftovers. Imagine how good taco meat would be! The noodles can also be prepped and cooked in advance and kept in the fridge. Although, the shirataki noodles take no time at all. But leftover pasta from family Italian night works great here. Just throw everything together like we are now.
Add the cooked and drained noodles to the cheese mixture, add a pinch of salt, and stir to combine.
In a casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray, start with 1/3 of the beef. I like to do 3 layers of beef and two layers of the pasta/cheese mixture, but do what works for you. You could even mix it all together!
Next, add half of the noodles and smooth out to cover the beef evenly.
Keep layering the beef and noodles until you've used everything up. Then put the casserole in the oven for 30 minutes, until the cheeses have melted and combined with the tomato sauce and beef, and made the noodles more tender and it's all just one creamy gooey dish.
After 30 minutes, let the casserole sit and cool slightly for 10 minutes to allow everything to set up, like you do with lasagna. When you do this, it won't spill out all over the plate; the casserole will stick together better.
Ahhh. Yum. I was so happy this turned out just as delicious as the original. It was slightly more liquid-y than when you use egg noodles, so if that's an issue for you, use half the container of cottage cheese instead of the whole container.
And Ryan even got seconds!
Here's the recipe!
Food that maximizes flavor and minimizes effort and time.