While my dad was in Vietnam in the early 60s, my mom made poor man’s pasta for me and my brother. It was nothing more than cooked pasta, spaghetti mostly, dressed in butter, salt, pepper, and milk. It was definitely a poor man’s meal, but we loved it (the things kids will eat). I don’t think my mom ever tried it. She hates milk.
Eventually, our poor man’s pasta was replaced with something more substantial, a dish my mom calls American Chop Suey. No, it’s not an Asian dish as the name suggests. It’s a combination of ground beef, carrots, onions, celery, and tomato sauce simmered until the vegetables are tender, then mixed with cooked elbow macaroni and topped with Parmesan cheese. (My mom swears elbows were huge back in the 60s.)
We still eat American Chop Suey today. So do our kids and our grandkids.
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 cup diced celery
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups Sunday sauce, or 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 3 cups cooked elbow macaroni (about 2 cups uncooked)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Parmesan cheese
- Sauté the carrot, onion and celery in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Add the ground beef and sauté for about 7-8 minutes. Add the [Sunday sauce|http://olives-n-okra.com/sunday-pasta-or-rigatoni-sauce] and mix well.
- Cook the elbow macaroni in a pot of salted boiling water until done, about 10 minutes. Drain elbows and add to the pot of sauce. Mix well. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with parmesan cheese.