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Chili Pasta Casserole

Active time:20 minutes

Total time:40 minutes

Servings:6 to 8

Active time:20 minutes

Total time:40 minutes

Servings:6 to 8

I’m a sucker for a casserole, especially one made with pasta, sauce, meat, and cheese. I love digging a big scoop into it and filling my dish with the comforting balls that still have curls of steam coming off them.

Casseroles taste great, yes, but also, if you’re the cook in your home, you know they generally use fewer pans and can often be made with shelf-stable ingredients or refrigerator pillars. Plus, they can fill you up when your wallet is a bit thin.

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Browsing through Brian Baumgartner’s “Seriously Good Chili Cookbook,” the actor who played chili expert Kevin Malone on NBC’s “The Office,” I discovered what’s quickly become a new favorite: Chili Pasta Casserole .

Baumgartner, who rose to fame for a chilli scene on the hit NBC sitcom and embraced his connection to chilli, has collected more than 170 recipes from kitchen winners, chefs and everyday people. He got this dish from Sara Lundberg of Portland, Oregon, cookbook author and founder of Budget Savvy Diva, a lifestyle blog. Lundberg has five kids, so she’s definitely focused on getting a thrifty dinner on the table quickly.

In his recipe, Lundberg cooked the dish on the stovetop in a large skillet, then transferred the whole thing to a 9×13-inch pan, but we used a large ovenproof pan and that left us with a less to clean. (The pot should hold about 14 cups total.)

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However, if you wish to prepare the dish in advance, use the casserole dish. It can be assembled and chilled so it’s ready to cook just before serving. This recipe also freezes very well. I froze it in portions for two – the size of our household – and had three delicious meals on hand.

The ease of assembly and freezing makes it a great option for potlucks, parties or game day festivities, especially for watching weekday football.

It is also an easy dish to vary according to your tastes. If you’re not a beef eater, substitute ground turkey or chicken. Or go vegetarian with plant-based meat or add another can of beans. If you want to slip veggies in, toss spinach, kale, peas, or corn into the mix and cook for a bit before adding the pasta.

The best part is that the casserole takes 15-20 minutes to assemble. Then you pop it in the oven for 20 minutes, giving you time to clean up kitchen messes, make a green salad, and uncork a bottle of red wine.

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When the pot is bubbly and ready to dig in, Lundberg recommends a generous dollop of sour cream on top. I agree.

If you don’t have a skillet large enough to fit this dish – it’s about 14 cups – or if you want to assemble it ahead of time, transfer the meat and bean mixture from the skillet to a lightly greased baking pan with 9×13 inches. casserole dish. Add pasta and stir until well blended. If baking right away, top with cheese and place in the oven.

If you are not cooking right away, cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month. If frozen, let the casserole thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then bake as directed.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.

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  • 8 ounces of short pasta, such as orecchiettes, small shells, or elbows
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small white onion (5 ounces), chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean or more) or 12 ounces plant-based meat, such as Beyond Meat brand
  • One can (15 ounces) no salt added tomato sauce
  • One can (15 ounces) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • One can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • One can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes and green chiles
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp, plus 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 2 cups (4 ounces) grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, for serving
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions, for serving

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente, then drain.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add beef and cook, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomato sauce, beans, diced tomatoes and green chiles, water, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to the skillet. Stir to combine and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the pasta to the skillet and stir to combine. Sprinkle evenly with cheese and bake for about 20 minutes, or until bubbly and heated through.

Divide into bowls and serve with sour cream and green onions on top or on the side.

Per serving (1 3/4 cups), based on 8

Calories: 471; Total fat: 20 g; Saturated fat: 10g; Cholesterol: 74mg; Sodium: 568mg; Carbohydrates: 44g; Dietary fiber: 8g; Sugar: 7g; Protein: 29g

This analysis is an estimate based on the available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietitian or nutritionist.

Adapted from “Seriously Good Chili Cookbook” by Brian Baumgartner (Fox Chapel Publishing, 2022).

Tested by Ann Maloney; questions by e-mail to [email protected].

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