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Pasta and Beef Skillet


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped
1 large green pepper, coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1 large (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano (optional)
1/4 cup ketchup
2-3 cups elbow macaroni
1 small can mushrooms
salt and pepper, to taste
hot red pepper flakes, 1/4 tsp. or to taste


In a skillet, saut, onion, pepper, celery and whole cloves of garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and butter. Turn garlic cloves to brown on both sides, then mash into the oil using the tines of a fork (this gives a mellow, roasted garlic flavor). Do not allow garlic to brown. When edges of onions have taken on color, remove contents of pan to a bowl and set aside.

In same skillet, brown ground beef in remaining olive oil over high heat, stirring often. Drain to keep hamburger dry halfway through the cooking so as not to steam the beef. As contents of skillet become dry, additional olive oil may be added. When beef has browned nicely, deglaze the pan by adding the Marsala wine and stirring up the brown bits from the bottom. Reduce heat to the lowest setting. Stir in the chopped tomatoes (juice and all). Add 1/2 teaspoon basil and 1/4 teaspoon oregano flakes (use fresh herbs when available, doubling quantities). Add ketchup. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender but not mushy. Cover skillet half way (by tilting lid).

Meanwhile, boil macaroni according to package directions. Drain.

After the 30 minutes has elapsed, stir mushrooms and cooked pasta into the tomato and ground beef mixture in the skillet. Season to taste with sea salt, pepper and hot red pepper flakes. Cook another 2-3 minutes until mushrooms have heated through before serving.

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