Savoury Ground Beef Pasta is a wonderful fall-inspired dish which is prepared in less than 45 minutes. With ingredients like beef, carrots, onions, tomatoes, peas, and thyme, who could resist? This is not your average ground beef pasta; this is hearty, comforting, and perfect for the cooler months ahead.
When Ottawa Valley Meats asked if I would prepare a recipe using their lean ground beef, I knew I wanted to prepare a dish that would fit well into a what I call no-fuss and family-style. And, because I truly love the colder Canadian climate, I’m all about recipes that are homestyle and cozy. Savoury Ground Beef Pasta is a dish that fits the criteria, and one that I’m sure you will love!
Really, who doesn’t love a pasta dish? And, to me, it’s even better if that pasta is loaded with flavour enhancing vegetables and aromatics. I opted to use lots of onions – both fresh and from a packet. I’ll talk about that in a bit. In addition, I added carrots, peas, and tomatoes. Finally, I rounded out the dish with salt, lots of black pepper, a bunch of fresh thyme leaves, parsley, oregano, and finally, dark soy sauce! Yes, dark soy sauce!!!
Oh, I forgot to mention the tomato paste. This is a pasta dish, but because of some of the ingredients, I like to think of it as a stew that you can eat with a fork. A stew has all of the feel-good ingredients that I used in this dish, and a stew needs tomato paste! Now, let’s talk about how I made this dish and why you need to prepare it at your home pronto!
HERE IS WHAT YOU WILL NEED FOR THIS RECIPE:
- Pasta – Any short pasta will work – macaroni, penne, fusilli, etc. Be sure to undercook your pasta on the extreme side. The cooked pasta will continue to cook in the ground beef mixture, so you won’t want to cook it all the way through in the beginning stages.
- Ground Beef – I used lean grass-fed ground beef from Ottawa Valley Meats. This beef was so lean, I didn’t need to drain the grease after it was browned!
- Olive Oil – I used just a little to get the ground beef and onion started.
- Tomato Paste – I love using tomato paste in stews and pasta dishes. It tastes like the dish has been simmering all day! Not only does it help to thicken recipes, and enrich the flavour, but it also adds that beautiful colour.
- Carrots – You will want the carrots to cook quickly, so it’s important to either use smaller carrots or cut larger carrots into smaller pieces. As you can see, the carrots I used where quite small, so I just peeled them and sliced them into 1/4 inch slices.
- Onion – There’s lots of onion-y flavour in this pasta dish. You can use yellow, white, or even red onion here. You will want to have one and a half cups of diced onion, so buy accordingly.
- Peas – Frozen peas are the only peas I use. No need to thaw them or cook them first. Add them into the ground beef mixture right from the freezer.
- Tomatoes – You can use a can of diced tomatoes or stewed tomatoes. I always have my own stewed tomatoes on hand, so I used those. You can also dice up some fresh tomatoes if you want to do that instead. Be sure to add all of that tomato juice if you do!
- Onion Soup Mix – This is a dry mix that you can find in the soup or spice section of your grocery store. I tend to use Lipton, which comes in a box. But, some other brands come in single sachets. You will need two teaspoons, so one sachet will do just fine.
- Dark Soy Sauce – Used for flavour, but it really deepens the colour without having to fry the ground beef for a long period of time. Dark Soy Sauce is also sweeter than regular soy sauce and thicker too. If you don’t have any, use regular or low-sodium soy sauce.
- Thyme – Fresh thyme leaves are wonderful in this dish and make it taste so much like a stew. If you don’t have fresh thyme, you can use dried thyme. If I ever use dried herbs in a recipe that calls for fresh, I use the 1/3rd rule, which is simple. Whatever the fresh amount, I use 1/3rd the amount in dried form.
- Parsley – Just like the thyme, you can use dried, but fresh is best.
- Oregano – I have a herb garden and I grow fresh oregano, but I don’t use it very much in fresh form. The fresh leaves are great in a salad or placed on a cooked pizza, but it should never be cooked. I’ll cut the stems and dry them in the fall. So, in this recipe, I used dried oregano. It’s more flavourful!
- Salt and Black Pepper – Be careful with the salt, because the soy sauce and the onion soup mix can be salty. But, in my opinion, one can never have too much black pepper!
Let me talk to you a bit about how to get the pasta just right without overcooking it. Someone once told me that I prepare pasta like an old Italian grandma. That has stuck we me for so many years. You see, Dear Reader, I’m far from perfect, but cooking pasta is one thing I can certainly do perfectly. I don’t care what the back of the pasta package says, cook your pasta according to taste and texture. Ignore everything else. Here are my 4 steadfast rules:
Rule #1: Say no to oil!
Do you add oil to your pasta water before adding the pasta? Stop that right now! I don’t know who’s responsible for that, but I have seen some TV chefs do it! If you add oil to your pasta water, do you know what happens when you put the sauce on it? The sauce won’t stick as well as it should. It will slide off, because the oil prevents it from sticking.
Rule #2: Add extra salt!
Salt the water. I used to be so afraid of salting pasta water, because I thought it would be too salty to eat. Salting the water, before you add the pasta, is the only chance you get to season that pasta. Let the water come to full boil before adding your salt. The water should taste like the ocean. Don’t dump the salt in; stir it in. Preventing the salt from settling at the bottom of your pot will keep your pot looking shiny and new. If you have pots with what looks like a tarnished or unpolished interior bottom, it’s because salt sat at the bottom of your pot.
Rule #3: Get that pasta moving about immediately!
Stir the pasta for a good minute when you first add it to the water. This helps to wash off some of the starch and prevents the pasta from sticking to the pot and to itself. I always pull out a piece of pasta 4 minutes before the package says it will be ready. Taste it. Chew it. It shouldn’t be completely soft. If it has a bit of bite left in the center, get it out of the water and drain it immediately. You can thank me later!
Rule #4: Do not rinse!
So many of us are tempting to rinse pasta under running water after it’s been drained. I think it comes from the notion that it gets rid of starch. Well, it does in a way. But, when pasta begins to cool off and dry, it becomes a little sticky. That stickiness soaks up pasta sauce, so don’t flush it out! A quick drain is all you need. Get the pasta into a bowl or onto a plate. Get the sauce on it and serve it up.
HOW TO MAKE SAVOURY GROUND BEEF PASTA
Most recipes come together in stages, and this one is no different. However, you don’t need to feel like you are practicing your juggling skills when you make this dish. You will need one pot for the pasta, which you can cook while you wait for the carrots to get tender. You will also need one pot for the sauce mixture. That pot should be large and have a heavy bottom to it. I love to use my Dutch Oven for this, but any heavy-bottomed pot or large skillet will do. Everything in the ingredient list will end up in this pot, so make sure it’s big enough to handle it!
Start by adding the olive oil, lean ground beef, and onion to the pot. Over medium heat, cook the meat until no more pink is visible. This should take about 10-15 minutes. While that’s happening, cook the pasta – be sure to salt the water! Once the pasta is done, drain it and set it aside. Don’t rinse it off!
Now that the lean ground beef is cooked, add salt, black pepper, and dark soy sauce and give it a good stir. The soy sauce will darken the beef without having to cook it until it has browned. We are seasoning the beef now instead of at the beginning, because salt draws out moisture and we want the beef to be moist and tender.
Next, add the carrots, onion soup mix, tomato paste, tomatoes, and oregano. Stir all of these things into the beef mixture. Finally, pour in two cups of water. Stir to combine and continue to cook on medium heat until the carrots are tender. This should take about 10-15 minutes. The water will not have fully evaporated.
Once the carrots are tender, add the thyme and peas. Stir into the beef mixture. Next, add the cooked and drained pasta. Stir well to combine. Finally, add the parsley. Stir well again and taste to see if you need any more salt. That’s it! You’re done! Serve it up immediately. You can toss on a bit of grated parmesan cheese if you wish. Now, enjoy, because Savoury Ground Beef Pasta is delicious!
WANT TO MAKE THIS DISH VEGETARIAN?
When I first made Savoury Ground Beef Pasta using lean ground beef, I remember John.e commenting how how great it looked and how good it smelled. I felt so badly that he couldn’t have any. He’s a vegetarian and obviously, ground beef is off limits. So, I prepared him a vegetarian version.
To do so couldn’t be easier. I followed the recipe exactly how it is written with two exceptions. First, I used Gardein Beefless Ground. But, I treated it just as if it were real ground beef. Fry it up with the onions and olive oil. Now, if you are a vegetarian and/or if you are familiar with beefless ground beef, you will know that it can soak up lots of water. So, rather than using two cups of water, I used 3 1/4 cups. This will ensure you have enough of a “beefy” sauce to stir into the cooked pasta.
John.e loved it! He ate a huge helping for dinner. And, he still had enough left over for lunch the next two days! Don’t ask, Dear Reader! I have no idea how he can handle eating leftovers like that. I can eat leftovers the very next day, but not two days in a row! Ha!
If you are in Ontario, be sure to look into Ottawa Valley Meats to see if they deliver to your area. They offer seafood, poultry, and pork too. And, they deliver right to your door! I have had other suppliers deliver meat and seafood, but they were the best! It comes in a freezer-refrigerated truck, which means the box doesn’t need to be stuffed with ice packs or dry ice. And, the food doesn’t need to be packaged into those silver cooler bags. Do you know what that means for me? Less waste!
So far, we have tried the salmon in this Herb Butter Pan Fried Salmon with Aioli dish. And, we’ve also had these Crispy Fried Shrimp. And, now the ground beef in this recipe. I still can’t believe that the ground beef was so lean I didn’t have to drain it! I have purchased lean ground beef at grocery stores and I’ve always had to drain off about a quarter cup of grease afterwards. Not this time! Thanks, Ottawa Valley Meats!
Savoury Ground Beef Pasta
Ingredients are listed in the order they are used in the recipe.
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups onion, diced
- 450 grams pasta, cooked and drained
- 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
- 2 cups carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 2 teaspoons onion soup mix
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/3 tablespoon dried thyme)
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Add the olive oil, lean ground beef, and onion to a Dutch oven or large, heavy-bottomed pot or skillet. Over medium heat, cook the meat until no more pink is visible. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
- While the ground beef is cooking, prepare the pasta – be sure to salt the water! Once the pasta is done, drain it and set it aside. Don’t rinse it off!
- Add the salt, black pepper, and dark soy sauce to the ground beef and give it a good stir.
- Next, add the carrots, onion soup mix, tomato paste, tomatoes, and oregano. Stir all of these things into the beef mixture.
- Finally, pour in two cups of water. Stir to combine and continue to cook on medium heat until the carrots are tender. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
- Add the thyme and peas. Stir into the beef mixture.
- Next, add the cooked and drained pasta. Stir well to combine.
- Finally, add the parsley. Stir well again and taste for seasoning.
- Serve immediately.