Welcome back to Friday Feast in Mary's Tavern! Recently, I saw a comment where a person mentioned how long the month of January lingered. Really?! I think this month is zipping faster than December. It might have to do with many longing for spring? Or for warmer temps? Regardless, I'll stick to cozy meals—from hearty soups to filling casseroles. I'll worry about spring next month when I get the urge to start planting in my garden.
Today's recipe is full of everything I love and perfect to swap out ingredients for something else. I've made this casserole with hot Italian sausage and ground pork. Both are excellent additions. If you prefer to omit the meat, then add more broccoli.
Until next Friday, stay warm and cozy! Sláinte mhath!
Cheesy Pasta with Broccoli and Meat
1-lb fusilli noodles (or small pasta of your choice)
4 cups fresh broccoli florets
6 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1-lb ground beef (feel free to swap out for another meat or poultry)
3 ½ tablespoons flour
2 ¼ cups whole milk
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
3 cups shredded cheese (I use a combination of cheddar and Monterey Jack)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.
1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large skillet. Add the chopped onion and cook until softened (approximately 5 minutes).
2. Add the ground beef and continue to cook. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
3. While meat is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to the directions on the package.
4. When there are three minutes left, toss in the broccoli with the pasta. When done, drain both and then return to the pot with 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir gently.
5. Stir in cooked meat and onions to pasta mixture.
6. Wipe out skillet and melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir constantly until mixture is a light brown. Whisk in the milk and remove lumps. Season with a little salt and pepper and cook until sauce thickens (approximately 7 minutes).
7. Remove from heat and whisk in cheese until melted.
8. Add cheese sauce to pot with pasta mixture and stir to combine. Pour everything into the prepared baking dish. If you’d like, sprinkle the top with additional shredded cheese.
Bake for 35-45 minutes.