I know it's Cinco De Mayo but, I posted chicken chilaquiles last week in preparation of it. This week I'm going to post an old stand by that my roomies and I used to make when we would have hoardes of people over. It was fun for us girls to host a little get together. I got this out of a Food and Wine cookbook and it's yummy, simple and cost effective.
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 onion, chopped
1 pound ground beef
2 cups canned chopped tomatoes, drained (from one 28-ounce can)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup store-bought or homemade pesto
3/4 pound medium pasta shells
6 ounces mozzarella, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1.Heat the oven to 400°. Oil a large baking dish (about 9 by 13 inches).
2.In a large stainless-steel frying pan, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the ground beef and cook, breaking it up, until the meat is no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Drain off any excess fat.
3.Add the tomatoes and salt to the pan and bring to a simmer. Cook until most of the liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pesto.
4.Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the shells until just done, about 10 minutes. Drain and toss with the sauce. Put half of the pasta into the prepared baking dish and top with half the mozzarella and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan. Repeat with the remaining pasta, mozzarella, and Parmesan. Bake until bubbling, about 15 minutes.
Almost any relatively soft, mild cheese will taste good here. You might try fontina in place of the mozzarella, or even Gouda or Havarti. You can try whatever small pasta you like and your favorite pesto.