I like arabbiata with shrimp and angel hair. Here’s a solid dinner using ground beef:
Step One: Early in the day (or the day before or whatever), get some rigatoni and boil it up in water. Just use the directions on the box as a guideline for doneness, but check frequently (by scooping one out, letting it cool a second and tasting) and when you get the perfect temperature, dump them in a strainer and douse with cold water. This stops them from cooking further so you don’t end up with limp noodles. Gigity. Put the pasta in a container and put it in the fridge.
Step Two: While you’re boiling the rigatoni, throw a bag or two of pre-mixed Caesar salad or Italian blend into a bowl with some dressing. Mix it up good and throw it back in the fridge.
Step Three: Heat up a pan (medium or medium high, not full blast) with olive oil. Chop some onion and garlic. I would say one clove of garlic and about a shot glass-sized amount of chopped onion per pound of ground beef that you plan to cook. Let the olive oil heat up for a couple minutes, then add the onion and garlic. After a minute or so you will start to really smell their flavor, then add the ground beef and brown it up nicely.
Step Four: Add 2 cans Organics-brand Tomato Basil per pound of ground beef to a large pot and turn it on. You can really use any brand you want, I just think that tastes good and is actually about the same price as store brand. Put the burner on high, stirring every now and then until it starts to simmer. At that point, turn the heat way down and add the ground beef. Keep it just shy of simmering (stirring sometimes to make sure the bottom doesn’t burn) for an hour or so, or really however long you want to.
Step Five: When you are ready to serve, take the pasta out, put it in the strainer and run it under very hot water for a minute or so, tossing to heat up all the noodles. This is how a lot of Italian restaurants heat up their “fresh” pasta and it tastes the same as if it just came out of the pot.
Serve up your salads and pasta with the gravy on top. This is pretty easy, because you can cook up the pasta and ground beef and make the salad way in advance. You can cook the gravy in the afternoon, turn the heat off and leave it covered and it will start warm until dinnertime. Then you just take the pasta out, run it under hot water and you are good to go.
If you want to get classy, you can garnish the pasta with a little scoop of ricotta cheese and some shredded parmesan and prosciutto (or even pepperoni) on the salad.