Ever heard of “goulash”? I think every family has a “goulash” and I’d be willing to bet each one is very different. We definitely had goulash, and it was a week night favorite of mine.
Turns out actual goulash is a Hungarian dish that involves a lot of smoked paprika. Hmm. This is not that. This is lasagna that you can make in thirty minutes. When I have ground turkey or beef in my fridge this is always what I make. It’s my favorite kind of dinner – grains, protein, veggies and dairy, all in one bowl.
As you scan the ingredients you might find a few surprises. The goulash I grew up with always had condensed tomato soup in it; sweeter than tomato paste but thicker than crushed tomatoes. The second surprise is the cottage cheese. At school we make cottage cheese pancakes, and the kids are always shocked to find that, when heated, the curds disappear (curds is the third worst word in the world). Same thing here, the cottage cheese makes this creamy and rich and the curds just melt away! If you feel more comfortable using ricotta, go for it, but I always have cottage cheese on hand so it worked for me. If you don’t eat cottage cheese, you should, by the way. The protein for calories is outstanding.
Oh! If you cook for picky eaters who prefer white pasta (or if you are, in fact, partial to the white stuff), PLEASE still make this with whole wheat. You really can’t tell once it’s all mixed up. I used Whole Food’s fusilli, which is 100% whole wheat flour AND tastes bizarrely like white pasta. Lastly, I used grass-fed beef for this dish. You’ve probably heard that it’s better for you (more B vitamins, less saturated fat), but the flavor is SO much better – surprisingly, noticeably better. It’s also better for the planet, so it’s triple threat – a triple threat that is undermined almost completely by the scary sticker price. Buy it once in a while, at least, and make some goulash.
The first worst word is mucus. The second is panties.
3 c. whole wheat fusilli, penne or rotini
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 white or yellow onion, diced
1 tsp. salt, divided (not counting salt for pasta water)
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
14 oz. crushed tomatoes (or 1/2 a 28 oz. can)
1/4 c. condensed tomato soup
4 c. (packed) baby spinach
1/4 c. fat free cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
1/4 c. grated parmesan plus more for topping
1. Bring a large saucepan or pot of water to boil. Add 1-2 tsp. salt and pasta. Boil, uncovered, until pasta is al dente. Drain pasta when cooked.
2. Place olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add onion and 1/4 tsp. salt and saute until soft and translucent.
3. Add meat and saute until browned. If needed, drain fat.
4. Add another 1/4 tsp. salt, oregano, rosemary, red pepper, and garlic powder. Stir to combine.
5. Add crushed tomatoes and soup. Mix and bring mixture to a simmer.
6. Add spinach and stir until wilted.
7. Add pasta and cottage cheese/ricotta and stir. Add remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and parmesan and stir.
8. Serve, topped with parmesan.