Three cheeses—cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Parmesan—melt together with a pound of ground beef into a comforting weeknight dinner for the family.
Make-ahead tips: You could brown the meat ahead of time. You could toss the noodles with the sour cream mixture ahead of time. You could make the sauce ahead of time. You could make and assemble the casserole ahead of time and either bring to room temperature and then bake, or just bake straight from the fridge and add 5 to 10 minutes of extra cooking time. —Katie Workman
unsalted butter, divided
sliced leeks, white and light green parts only
chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, blotted dry
(14 1/2–ounce) can diced tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a 9x13-inch pan, or a shallow 2-quart baking dish, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Cook the noodles according to package directions, just until tender, and then drain and toss in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of the butter.
While the noodles are cooking, spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray, then sauté the beef over medium heat until browned and crumbly, about 5 minutes. Drain the beef and wipe out the skillet.
In the same skillet melt the remaining tablespoon butter over medium low heat and sauté the leeks for about 12 minutes until tender. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, diced tomatoes, oregano, thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Add the drained beef, bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
While the sauce is cooking (there won’t be a lot of liquid, mostly vegetables), mix together the sour cream, 1 cup cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Parmesan in a large bowl. Add the warm buttered noodles and toss until well combined—the sour cream mixture is thick; just keep gently tossing until it coats the noodles.
Turn the sauce into the bowl with the noodles and toss until just combined. Turn into the prepared baking pan and sprinkle over the remaining cup of cheddar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the top is melted and everything is hot and bubbly. Let sit for 5 minutes and then serve.