If I had one weakness (well, I have many, but I digress), it’s this pasta. I found the original recipe on Tastemade and it reminded me of the old-school Hamburger Helper I used to eat when I was a kid, but all dressed up. I futzed with the original quite a bit to suit my tastes and preferences (i.e. the fact that I HATE HEAVY CREAM WITH SUCH A PASSION), and I assure you that you will weep into your bowl and go for seconds and thirds. This is also a dish that keeps well in the fridge (for up to 3 days) and in the freezer for up to a month. Candidly, I’ve never been able to make it past the third day without hoovering this dish. I’ve even, gulp, had it for breakfast.
It’s that good.
INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Tastemade
3/4 raw, unsalted cashews
1 cup water
1 lb of ground sirloin (I like the 85/15 combination since there’s another fat to keep this juicy.)
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp crushed black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 1/4 cups of tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups of beef broth
1 pound of your favorite pasta (I’d go with penne, rigatoni, elbows. I use Bionature gluten-free pasta.)
2 cups of your favorite shredded cheese (I love mixing cheddar and mozzarella)
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
Soak the cashews in your cup of water for minimum 2 hours. If you have a fancy-ass blender (Vitamix or something in the million dollar mark), you can blitz this after an hour. However, for everyone else, 2-4 hours of soaking works. Why am I doing this? I hate heavy cream. With cashews, you get the creamy consistency without feeling like you’re carting around a boulder in your stomach, post meal.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, on medium-high heat, add the oil, garlic, shallots, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper, and sweat for 2-3 minutes until the mixture has softened. Add the ground beef and toss to coat. The biggest mistake people make with beef is that they overwork it. YOU DON’T NEED TO TOUCH YOUR BEEF EVERY TWO SECONDS. Let it sit an toss/break up the beef every few minutes. You want the beef completely browned. This will take 6-7 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and toss to coat. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. Now, drain your soaked cashews and add them to your blender. Add a cup of water to the blender, your tomato sauce, and beef broth, and blitz until smooth. Add the sauce mixture to your beef and toss to coat. Bring your mixture to a boil and then add your pasta and stir. Reduce your heat to low. Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes. Your noodles should soften and the sauce should reduce to a creamy consistency. If your mixture is still a little watery, cover, and continue to cook. Trust me, the sauce will reduce. Before you add the parsley, taste test and see if you need any additional seasoning. Mix in your cheese.
Toss in your chopped parsley. Serve hot and cry sweet tears of joy.