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Italian Beef and Green Bean Casserole

I’ve been on a casserole kick lately.

Part of it is that Beloved loves casseroles; part of it is that they’re generally inexpensive and fairly simple.  Part of it is that despite the mild weather we’re all experiencing, it’s still the time of year we crave them, just like we crave salads and goodies from the grill in the summer.  But whatever the reason, coming up with casseroles that don’t depend on grains, potatoes, milk or cheese isn’t necessarily easy.

You learn, though.  One evening last week, I was getting everything out for spaghetti and realized I had some green beans in the fridge that really needed to be used.  And I wasn’t really in the mood for spaghetti squash.  So, I perused the Box O’ Squash in the garage and came back with two small delicatas, pulled the green beans out of the fridge, popped the lids on two pints of homemade tomato sauce and whipped this up.

And it was good.  So good that The Picky Young One one ate every bite of what was a pretty large portion – even the squash, at which he usually turns up his nose.  So, while this might not be the prettiest dish I’ve ever cooked, it’s certainly one of the tastier ones.

It is, after all, Young One Approved.

Note:  If you don’t want to bother with the oven, you could cook this completely on the stove.  Just make sure to stir it occasionally so it doesn’t burn.  You could also make this low carb by substituting the squash with an equal amount of cubed turnips, although I can’t promise that The Young One would eat it.

Italian Beef and Green Bean Casserole

Italian Beef and Green Bean Casserole

serves 6

2 pounds ground beef, preferably grass-fed
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped or 2 teaspoons dried
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped or 2 teaspoons
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 small delicata squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut in half

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Heat a large, heavy, oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat; add the ground beef and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon or spatula, until it’s almost browned and much of the fat and liquid has been released. Season with the salt and pepper and add the onion. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened. Add the garlic to the pan, stir and cook for another minute or until the ground beef is completely cooked through.

Stir in the tomato sauce, tomato paste, herbs and red pepper flakes, if using. Add the squash and green beans; cover and place in the oven. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender and the green beans are tender-crisp. Serve topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese, if desired.

Nutrition (per serving): 504 calories, 33.4g total fat, 113.4mg cholesterol, 1702.7mg sodium, 1360.3mg potassium, 20.8g carbohydrates, 6g fiber, 10.5g sugar, 31.4g protein.

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Posted in participation of Kelly The Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday

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