In this recipe, we throw the dry pasta into the meat sauce toward the end instead of cooking it separately. This allows the pasta to absorb the flavors of the sauce and also releases starch into the sauce, which helps thicken the sauce and pull everything together. If you find you don't like this texture, feel free to cook the pasta separately and add it at the very end along with the cheese!
Southwest Skillet Ragu
1 – 1.5 pounds of ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 red (green, orange, or yellow) pepper, chopped
1/2 container mushrooms quartered
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juices
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt (plus additional to season to taste)
1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)
1 cup elbow macaroni
1/2 cup water (as needed)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Heat a teaspoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a wok or skillet that will be deep enough to hold everything. Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink (about 8 minutes).
Stir in the onions and mushrooms, and cook until the onions are soft and slightly translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the peppers, spices, and salt, and continue to saute until veggies are mostly cooked (about 3 minutes).
Add tomatoes with their juices and bring to a boil. Add the pasta. Let the water come back to a boil and then reduce the heat. Allow everything to simmer for about 10 minutes until the pasta isel dente and the veggies are cooked through. (If it looks like the liquid is gone before the pasta is cooked, pour in another half cup of water.)
Sprinkle the cheese over the top and stir until the cheese is melted and gooey. Spoon into individual bowls, top with an extra sprinkle of cheese, and serve!