This time of year I love to stock my freezer full of easy to prepare meals for busy nights and adjusting to busier days again. This casserole is Gluten Free as well, but if you are not gluten-sensitive feel free to substitute the rice noodles for wheat.
This casserole is not only budget-friendly but fast to put together too. I like to buy ground beef in large quantities so I am able to cook and freeze a few extra pounds to have on hand. Since we are currently a household of 5, I usually use two pounds for most recipes as I typically double them as we love leftovers. Let's get to cooking...
Italian- Weeknight Casserole
2 lbs of super lean ground beef
1 finely chopped onion
4 cups of white rice noodles
2 cups of fat free cottage cheese
1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
2 T. dried parsley
1 t. salt and pepper
28 ounce can of chopped tomatoes
6 ounce can of tomato paste
2 t. minced garlic
1 T. dried Italian seasoning
2 cups of shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
Cook onion with beef, adding tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, Italian seasoning, allowing mixture to simmer on low while working on the remainder of the recipe. While the meat mixture simmers, cook pasta until al dente, drain rinse and set aside. In a small mixing bowl combine the cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, beaten egg, dried parsley, salt and pepper. Grease a 13" x 9" baking dish and pour half of the meat mixture into the bottom. Next put a layer of half of the cooked pasta on top of that, then the entire cottage cheese mixture. Repeat a layer of pasta, followed by the remainder of the meat mixture and topping with shredded mozzarella. Bake until bubbly, and remove from oven when top is golden in areas. About 30-40 minutes.
I like to combine this with a huge spinach salad or steamed broccoli for a fast, hearty meal. It also freezes well. I like to use it withing 30-45 days for best flavor if frozen.
I hope this can make your weeknight or weekend dinners a little easier to plan and prepare. Happy cooking from my Tratoria to yours :)