Elbow Casserole

One time when I was a teenager, my Aunt Terry came to visit us for a few days, and we had so much fun cooking together with my mom. It was fun to try out a few new things together, and I still make the recipes from that weekend all these years later! She made the first version of this casserole with ground beef, and she baked the assembled casserole to melt and brown the cheese. Now that I’m in such a rush to get dinner on the table, I do a cheat version by doing everything on the stovetop and quickly broiling the cheese to brown it. And judging by my photo, sometimes I just toss the cheese on top and that’s the end of it! I also omit the beef because my boys seem to prefer it that way, but by all means, add a pound of browned ground beef and enjoy! It’s such an easy, cheesy, creamy way to enjoy some vegetables.


Elbow Casserole
Recipe type: Main dish
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 with leftovers
  • 1 box elbow macaroni, I love Barilla brand because it is ridged and holds onto the sauce
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, medium diced
  • 1 red and 1 green bell pepper, medium diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and small diced
  • 1 14-oz. bag frozen broccoli florets, I use Bird's Eye brand
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 28-oz. can baked beans, I use Bush's Homestyle
  • 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Place a large pot filled with water on high until boiling. Add a few tablespoons of salt and drop in the elbows. Stir and adjust heat so it is still boiling, but not boiling over. Cook for about 8 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked al dente. Drain.
  2. Preheat your oven to broil.
  3. Meanwhile, in your largest saute pan (I use my 14-inch jumbo cooker), add vegetable oil and place over medium-high heat. After 1 minute, add the diced onions and a pinch of salt. Then add the diced red and green bell peppers and carrots and saute until slightly soft, about 4-6 minutes.
  4. Add frozen broccoli florets, frozen corn, smoked paprika and one more pinch of salt. Toss everything together well and continue to saute until the broccoli is nice and tender, 4 to 6 minutes. You may want to cover for a moment or 2 to steam the broccoli.
  5. Add the baked beans and the pasta to the pan and toss everything together.
  6. Sprinkle the cheese all over the top and slide into the oven on a top rack. Broil for 2-3 minutes, keeping an eye so the cheese browns but doesn't burn.
  7. Heap into bowls and enjoy!
If your saute pan is non-stick and you are worried about it being broiler-safe, just wrap the handle(s) in aluminum foil. The rest of the pan will be filled with food and protected for that moment or 2.


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