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Inexpensive meals do not have to taste cheap! My mother made this all of the time when we were growing up. It’s easy to make, budget-friendly, and so flavorful! It feeds a crowd for just a few dollars.
Fill a pot with some water for the pasta; cover, and set over high heat. Start heating 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Add the ground beef, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper; cook until fully browned. Drain.
While still over medium heat, add the bell pepper, chili powder, paprika, and tomato paste to the ground beef and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, then stir to combine. Cover and bring to a gentle simmer.
When the meat mixture has come to a full simmer, add a good amount of salt to the boiling water. Add the pasta, then stir to combine. Cook the pasta for two minutes less than the shortest cooking time listed on the box. You want it undercooked. While the pasta is cooking, stir the meat mixture periodically.
Drain the pasta and immediately add it to the meat mixture, then stir to combine. Allow the pasta and meat mixture to simmer together for about 3 to 4 minutes or until the pasta is as done as you like it. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Add the parsley and stir to combine. If desired, serve with some cheddar cheese or parmesan cheese.
I bought the ground beef, bell pepper, tomato paste, and diced tomatoes on sale. I used some farfalle that I had in my pantry, but you can use whatever pasta you like. I had some parsley left over from another dish so I threw it in to freshen the flavors. This entire dish cost less than US$6 to make, and it feeds a lot of people. If money is really tight, use less ground beef (or none at all) and throw in some drained black beans or some undrained chili beans. Don’t buy parsley just for this dish. The tomato paste adds great depth so buy it if you can afford it. Otherwise, you can leave it out.
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