In spite of warm August temperatures we are only days away from “back to school.” That means sports, homework, busier days and that age old question, “what’s for dinner?”
For the rest of August, let’s explore some of the oft’ forgotten, old classics, that everyone, including the kids, eagerly devour, often asking for seconds.
One that comes to mind is a simple one pot dish referred to as goulash. Served with a green salad and warm bread, it is a complete meal. Not only do the tomatoes in this tomato based dish contain the vitamins A, C, and K, iron, potassium and protein that growing bodies need, the bright red color (lycopene) is a powerful antioxidant known to fight cancer and heart disease.
Many are aware of the health pros of the tomato but did you know about the benefits of a second ingredient found in goulash? Paprika! Often overlooked by American cooks, it is a main stay in Hungarian dishes— the origin of goulash. Many studies show that it promotes glowing skin, helps prevents hair loss, lowers blood pressure and aids in wound healing as well as being a powerful anti-inflammatory.
So what is not to love about this economical, easy to prepare delicious dish?
There are probably as many versions of the traditional Hungarian dish as there are recipes for spaghetti sauce and the one I am making today is Americanized and not too spicy, which possibly explains why it is popular with younger kids.
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 medium yellow onion (chopped) (yields about 1 ½ cups)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 heaping tablespoon paprika (its good for you)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. crushed caraway seeds (optional)**
1 can petite no salt added diced tomatoes (undrained)
6 oz. can Campbell’s tomato juice
1 tablespoon tomato paste*
½ cup water
3 cups cooked small elbow macaroni***
* Buy tomato paste in the tube and you always have some in the refrigerator for the small amounts that many recipes call for.
**I like the slight sweetness of the caraway seeds.
***You can use whatever pasta you like. I just like the presentation of the elbows in the dish. 1 cup dry macaroni yields about 4 cups.
Cook macaroni in boiling salted water until al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In same pan, brown meat. (If your pan is not non-stick, spray with non-stick spray for easy clean up.) When meat is close to loosing it pink and turning grey, add the onion and cook until meat is done and onion is tender. This is a good time to season meat with some salt and pepper since we are using unsalted tomatoes. (Campbell’s Tomato Juice is salted.)
Add pepper, garlic powder, paprika, caraway seed, canned tomatoes, water, tomato paste and tomato juice. Mix well and add cooked pasta. Cover and simmer over low heat until seasonings meld. Add additional water or tomato juice if you like more sauce, but adjust the seasoning and add a bit more cooked pasta if you like the taste of pasta as I do. Taste for seasonings and serve or store in refrigerator to re-heat when ready to eat.
Although this recipe may not be spicy enough for sophisticated palettes that enjoy foods with lots of heat which seems to be a trend in cooking today, it is an old-fashioned, family friendly meal that the little one will probably enjoy.
Also, as with any basic recipe you may add or change. For instance, if you like bell pepper, add some when you add the onion. It goes well with the dish.