Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Shady Summer Supper

One of my Mother's stand-by family suppers, was a dish she called Goulash. It was always a crowd pleaser and I have turned to it time and again myself. Mama would make a basic ground beef spaghetti sauce, then thin it out with tomato juice before adding raw elbow macaroni right to the pot. When the macaroni was tender, she would cover the top with grated cheddar cheese, and when that was melted, it was time to eat. Pasta, cooked this way is not only very easy, it is very rich and hearty tasting.

A while back, after I had made the same thing, I took some leftovers to have for lunch at work. A coworker came into the break room, exclaimed about the heavenly aroma, wondered what I was eating, walked over, peered into my dish, and said, "Oh, hamburger helper". You should have seen me stiffen and bristle! I simply stated, "I can help my own hamburger, thank you."

Yesterday, I decided to make a lighter version using lots of fresh vegetables.

Summer Goulash
1 lb. ground chuck
2 large Vidalia onions
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
2 cups vegetable stock
3 large summer tomatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
2 crookneck yellow squash, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/4 -1/2 c. chopped fresh herbs - I used parsley, oregano, and basil
1/2 lb. pasta, any shape, cooked al dente, in salted water

Brown ground beef and onions, over medium high heat, to the point of carmelization. Pour out any excess fat. Add garlic, celery, carrots, and stir for a couple of minutes. Deglaze the pan with the vegetable stock, then add the salt, black and red peppers, and sugar. Cover the pan and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Add the tomatoes, squash, and zucchini, cover the pan and cook for about 5 minutes more. Stir in the cooked pasta and fresh herbs, and heat through.

Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

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