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Our visitors were due to arrive on Friday, right before lunch, and of course I had the entire afternoon and evening planned out. Unfortunately, a disgruntled employee set a fire, that crippled the Chicago Air Control System, resulting in flights being disrupted Nationwide! So my brother and his family were terribly delayed – flying on the red-eye from Las Vegas to Atlanta, to New Orleans, back to Atlanta and finally up to Northwest Arkansas. It was past 11pm when they arrived in our little part of the world, and I was exhausted just hearing about their long day of travel. So my busy plans were put on hold, and instead, we had a glass of wine on the back porch and headed to bed. I had planned rather more of an elaborate meal for their first night in town, but as they had eaten dinner in one of the numerous airports they had visited, I ended up throwing together a quick pasta dish for our family – and saving the feast for another, less tiresome night.


meaty mushroom rigatoni

6 ounces uncooked rigatoni

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound ground beef

2 carrots, scrubbed and cut into small dice

1 red onion, chopped

1 (8-ounce) package of mushrooms, sliced

1 zucchini, cut into small dice

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

8 garlic cloves, minced

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 bottle amber beer

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 ounce parmesan cheese, grated (I always add more)

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and keep warm.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, swirl to coat. Add beef, cook 2 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add carrot, onion and mushrooms, saute 5 minutes or just until tender. Stir in zucchini, salt and pepper and garlic, cook 4 to 6 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

Add tomatoes, tomato paste, beer and crushed red pepper to pan, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer 8 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, season as desired with salt and pepper. Divide pasta among bowls, top each serving with sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.


Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, December 2013