This has always been a dish that lands on our dinner table on a regular basis. When my oldest son was little he absolutely loved this so that was one reason (we all actually have loved this one from the first time I made it) Another reason I have always made it a lot is that it is just so versatile, it really is what you want it to be each time. Feel like Mexican food this casserole can give you that. What if you want Italian, no problem, this casserole will go there too. The reason is this is really just a basic road map, you fill in the blanks and make it just the way you want it.
First you choose what ground meat you want to use this time. I have made this with all of the following: ground beef, ground chicken, ground turkey, ground pork, bulk Italian sausage, bulk pork sausage and Chirizo. All of them worked wonderfully! So whatever you have on hand or in the mood to use.
The canned soup: any of the condensed cream of whatever soups, cheddar cheese soup, nacho cheese soup, or tomato soup. Just so it is a condensed soup (you know the ones you would add water or milk to) and it has a creamy base.
Seasonings: dried herbs, (whatever goes with what you have in mind) some ideas: basil, tarragon, dill, oregano, Italian seasonings, etc
Spices: chilli powder, cumin, caraway seed, etc
Pasta: whatever shape you have on hand elbows, ziti, egg noodles just about any shape.
Crumb topping: dry bread crumbs (mix with a bit of melted butter), Parmesan cheese (mixed with bread crumbs), fresh bread crumbs (mix with a bit of melted butter) crushed tortilla chips, crushed potato chips, chow mien noodles (crushed)
So you see you really can go anywhere with this. I love to do the following combinations:
Ground beef, chilli powder, cumin, cheddar cheese soup and top with crushed tortilla chips.
Any ground meat, Italian seasonings, tomato soup and topped with a mixture of dry bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and butter
Meat and Pasta Casserole
4 oz pasta
1 pound of ground meat
1 onion, diced
2 ribs celery, sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
(1 clove garlic, chopped optional)
1 (10 to 11 oz) can condensed soup, cream based
½ cup sour cream
½ cup milk
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
½ to 1 teaspoon seasonings of your choice
Crumb topping, about ¾ cup total or to cover your casserole dish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
Cook pasta according to directions on package, drain when cooked
Brown meat until cooked through and set aside. In the same skillet sweat the vegetables until slightly tender.
Combine canned soup, sour cream and milk until mixed well. Add seasonings, cooked meat. Cooked pasta and vegetables.
Pour mixture into an 8” x 8” casserole dish
Top with topping
Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes until heated through and top is browned.