Company Casserole

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Necessity is the mother of invention, and, the mother of a lot of recipe adaptations! How many times have you started a recipe only to discover you were missing the buttermilk, so substituted some milk and lemon juice? Or, needed mozzarella, but had to use jack? Or just opened the fridge and said, “Well, what can I make with this assortment of ingredients?” It’s my guess that this longstanding comfort casserole, popular in community cookbooks through the decades, was born at just such a time.

LeonaTeggeSiegleThis version, which we’ve updated from a recipe collection kept by Leona Tegge Siegle, mom-in-law of Evanston friend Caryln Siegle,  is really a simple dish, layering meat and tomato sauce and a chive-flecked three-dairy blend over buttered noodles. I resisted the temptation to add onion and garlic, letting the rich dairy dominate.

Makes 8 to 10

Company Casserole Ingredients

  • 1 8-ounce package curly egg noodles (Note: Use good quality.)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 15 ounce can, or jar tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 8-oz package cream cheese (can be low-fat)
  • 1 cup cottage cheese (low-fat is fine)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (light is fine)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green onion or finely-snipped chives
  • 1/2 of a finely chopped green bell pepper

Instructions

  1. Make noodles: Follow package instructions to prepare noodles to al dente.
  2. Make meat sauce: While noodles are boiling, brown beef in saute pan in butter; stir in tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Make dairy mix: In microwave at 50% power, heat cream cheese until softened; about 2 minutes. Whisk cream cheese with cottage cheese and sour cream; stir in chives.
  4. Assemble: In a buttered, 2-quart baking dish/or casserole dish, spoon in a layer of noodles. Spread with dollops of the dairy mixture. Top with a layer of the meat sauce. Repeat, layering noodles, cheese and meat sauce one more time.
  5. Preheat oven to 350. Cover casserole tightly with foil and bake at 375 for 30 minutes until very hot.
  6. Garnish with a ring/slice of bell pepper on top.

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