A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, in the time known as “Before We Had Kids”, Aaron and I lived in New Orleans. Lord knows there are a kazillion amazing restaurants to choose from in that town, but one of our favorite local haunts was a restaurant that specialized in all kinds of different pasta dishes. It was called Semolina. Cute, no?
They had your typical Italian pastas, but also had amazing pasta-fusion type dishes like fajita pastas, asian pasta, and an out of this world Mac and Cheese-Cake. My favorite dish there, was the Cheeseburger Pasta. Back in the day, it was a special, and was only available one night a week. It was one of those things that I never would have tried, had my friend not insisted on it. I never thought that cheeseburger toppings like ketchup, mustard, pickles and onions would work with a cheesy-beefy pasta dish.
I was wrong.
It was amazing, and they topped it with little, crunchy french fry bits too.
It’s been years and years since I’ve sat at Semolina and had that pasta. To be honest, I don’t even know if the restaurant is open any more. When I ran across this recipe, all of the memories of that delicious dish came rushing back. It didn’t look like exactly the same thing, but it seemed pretty darn close. I knew I had to try it.
As my pasta water was coming to a boil on the stove, I started by browning up a pound of ground sirloin with some chopped onion and garlic.
Once it was browned, I drained off the grease, and then added in a can of diced tomatoes, some ketchup, mustard, and a hefty dose of Worcestershire sauce.
I stirred that all together and let it simmer on the stove for a minute, while I drained my macaroni.
Once that mixture had heated through nicely, I removed it from the stove and stirred in (don’t gag) some chopped dill pickles, a cup of cheese, and the drained macaroni.
The original recipe actually called for Velveeta Shreds cheese, because it would melt so smoothly into the pasta. I went to two grocery stores and couldn’t find Velveeta Shreds, so I decided to go with this…
I figured the “touch of cream cheese” would add to the meltiness factor a bit, and be the next best thing to Velveeta. (It worked really well.)
I poured my pasta into the baking dish, topped it with the rest of the cheese, and popped it into the oven. Fingers crossed.
I cannot express to you how good this smelled as it baked.
When I pulled it out of the oven, I was hopeful. Very hopeful.
I scooped it out onto our plates, and topped each plate with shredded lettuce, sliced fresh tomato, pickles, and some diced onion, just as if it was a regular burger.
Kind of fun, right?
Not only was this fun and different, it was really, really tasty. I think Aaron and I were actually surprised at how good it really was! (We were actually really excited about the leftovers.) I thought it was delicious, all around, and it brought back memories of good times with great friends. I’d love to visit them soon, reminisce about times gone by, and let all of our kids get to know each other.
Adapted from Cuisine at Home
- 8 oz. dry elbow macaroni
- 1 lb. ground beef
- ½ cup diced onion
- 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
- 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, in juice
- ¼ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup yellow mustard
- 1½ Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup chopped dill pickle chips
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 cups "melty" cheese, either Velveeta shreds or Kraft Cheddar with a "touch of cream cheese"
- shredded iceberg lettuce, chopped onion, dill pickle chips, sliced tomatoes, for garnish
- Preheat your oven to 350* F. Coat a 9x13 inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook your macaroni according to the directions on the package. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, brown the ground beef with the onion and garlic in a large skillet on the stove top. Drain the grease.
- Stir in the diced tomatoes, ketchup, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Cook until heated through.
- Stir in the chopped pickles, 1 cup of the cheese, and pasta. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of the pasta.
- Bake, at 350*F, until the cheese is melted and the casserole begins to bubble, about 15 minutes.
- Garnish each serving with shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, chopped onions, and pickle slices.