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Pasta and Beef 'Goulash'

Years ago when I mentioned to my husband that I planned to make goulash for dinner, he thought I was making stew. Instead, I put a very American casserole on the table. The conversation that followed went something like this:

"What's this?"

"It's goulash."

"No...no, it isn't. It's like a homemade version of, I don't know, Hamburger Helper*."

Ah, culinary misunderstandings. As long as they don't involve an allergen that could kill me, they're usually funny and often enlightening. In the case of our goulash misunderstanding, Greg assumed I would be making the classic Hungarian stew and had never heard the macaroni and beef casserole I made referred to as goulash. I'm still not sure why the pasta and beef casserole I made is referred to as goulash. At first I thought it was a regional reference; however, I've met people from all over the country that call this casserole goulash.

No matter what you call it, this is a recipe for easy comfort food. Simply combine cooked gluten-free pasta (I like to use elbow macaroni but anything works) with cooked ground beef and tomato sauce. Top the whole thing with a little grated cheddar and in about 20 minutes, dinner is ready.

One little warning for the recipe, don't overcook the pasta. Gluten-free pasta turns mushy when overcooked. To avoid this, check the pasta while it cooks. You want it to be a bit firm when you add it to the sauce. It finishes cooking in the oven. And, like most pasta dishes, this recipe welcomes creativity. Add some additional chopped vegetables and cook them along with the onions and garlic or swap the Cheddar for a different cheese. However you make it, you'll end up with a casserole that's delicious but definitely not a stew. Just ask my husband.

*He has never, ever lived down comparing my cooking to Hamburger Helper, let me tell you.

About the author: Elizabeth Barbone of GlutenFreeBaking.com joins us every Tuesday with a new gluten-free recipe. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, she is the author of Easy Gluten-Free Baking and the forthcoming How to Cook Gluten-Free

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