Potluck Hamburger Casserole (aka "Johnny Marzetti" aka "Pam Shultz' Famous Glop")
1 16-oz package dry macaroni pasta
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 8-oz package mushrooms, sliced or chopped
(optional) 1 green pepper, chopped. Some substitute 1 cup celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb hamburger, ground, 80-20 blend or leaner
1 lb Italian sausage
2 14-oz cans tomato sauce
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp Italian Grinder Blend, ground
2 cups medium cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups Italian blend cheese (or mozzarella), grated
additional Italian Grinder Blend or salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bring a large pot of water to boil, adding about 1 tsp of salt if desired. Once boiling, cook macaroni following package directions for al dente doneness (usually about 7 minutes, or 2-3 minutes less than time listed for fully soft.) Macaroni will cook more in the casserole sauce, and mushy is not the goal! Drain pasta and set aside.
While the macaroni is cooking above, heat olive oil in a large skillet or pot on medium heat. Add onions, mushrooms, any other optional veggies, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for about five minutes, until onions are soft. Add ground beef and Italian sausage, breaking apart and stirring often, and cook until all trace of pink is gone. If your beef and sausage are on the fatty side, there may be enough oil in the pot that you would want to drain some. Tilt the pot and scoot the meat aside. Using a spoon, remove as much of the fat as you want. (I removed about half a cup, and left a few Tbsp behind for flavor.)
Add tomato sauce, tomatoes, and Italian Grinder Blend. Stir well, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. Taste the sauce, and adjust seasoning. Add more Italian Grinder Blend if desired, or just salt and pepper, depending on what you like. It is not unheard of to add a pinch of sugar at this point.
Combine the meat sauce and the macaroni in one pot and stir well. Stir in about half of each kind of cheese, reserving the rest to melt on top. Pour the mixture into a 9x13 casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake for 30 minutes on the center oven rack, until the cheese is melted and the dish is bubbly.
Remove from the oven, cover with foil, and haul it to the potluck! (Don't send your best spoon, you aren't getting it back.)
Or... serve immediately and refrigerate leftovers for tomorrow.