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Magical Goulash

My version of this versatile comfort food. ONE PAN WONDER! Be sure to check out the notes at the bottom for ways to adapt it to your preferences. It is almost magical in how it always turns out. It can be as listed, vegan, vegetarian, keto....nearly anything.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Comfort Food, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Hungarian
Keyword: Goulash, Macaroni
Servings: 4 people
Author: vkhanson

Equipment

  • 1 Dutch Oven w/lid
  • 1 Stirrer Spatula, Wooden spoon, Pancake turner
  • 1 Cutting board
  • 1 Knife

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tbsp oil EVOO is nice but any fat will do.
  • 1/2 cup diced Onion
  • 1/2 cup diced Bell pepper Using green pepper adds visual color but any works.
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced Add a 3rd if you love garlic!
  • 1/2 lb ground beef See notes for alternatives.
  • 1 14-15 oz can diced Tomatoes
  • 8 oz water rinse can with it before adding. Can also use white wine or broth or a blend.
  • 1 tsp Chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika Smoked, sweet, or regular.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste Start with 1 t salt and 1/2 t pepper and adjust at the end.
  • 3 oz Macaroni, dry or other small pasta (3/4 cup)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh Basil Cilantro or Parsley work well too.
  • 1/2 c shredded Cheddar Or other favorite cheese. Skip if making Vegan.

Instructions

  • In Dutch oven over medium high heat, add oil. Once heated, add onion, bell pepper, and pinch of salt. Sauté for 1 minute to flavor the oil.
  • Add ground beef and garlic. Cook until meat is browned.
  • Stir in tomatoes, rinse can with water and add water.
  • Add chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir and bring to a low boil.
  • Add macaroni. Stir and bring back to low boil. Cover but stir frequently.
  • Simmer for 15 minutes. Add additional water if the pasta needs more to cook through (different sized pasta require varying amounts of liquid.)
  • Add basil and cook one minute more. Check for salt and pepper to your liking. Top with cheese.

Notes

How to adjust.  (This is really a great tutorial on pantry cooking and substitutions)
Starch (Pasta) substitutions:
  • ¾ c. (3 oz) any small pasta like macaroni, uncooked
  • 3 oz dry spaghetti, broken into small lengths
  • ½ cup dry rice, cook an extra 5 minutes for white and 10 for brown
  • 1 large or 2 smaller potatoes, washed and small diced
  • 1 c. fresh or frozen gnocchi, or small pierogi
  • Small batch of spaetzle
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn (or 1 14oz can)
Protein substitutions:
  • ½ lb any ground or diced meat. 
  • 4 to 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 6 oz firm tofu (just add the salt, pepper, and half the chili powder with the tofu)
  • 1/3 cup dry quinoa (can be used as a starch also)
  • ½ cup bulgur
  • 1 14oz can of beans
  • ½ lb. any type of sausage (reduce the salt & pepper) (a strong chorizo would need you to reduce the chili powder also…taste and season at the end)
  • ¾ to 1 cup cooked lentil (or at least soaked in salt water for an hour)
Aromatics substitution examples (The onion, green pepper, and garlic in the above recipe are aromatics):
  • 1/2 c. of one, or a blend of, shallot, green onion, leek, red onion; OR use ½ TBSP onion powder; OR 2 oz pickled pearl onion
  • ½ c. of one, or a blend of, any color bell, poblano, jalapeno (will be hot), fine diced carrot, celery, fennel bulb; OR ¼ oz dried mild chilies; OR up to ½ tsp dry chili flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced: use of one, or a blend of, 1 ½ tsp pickled minced garlic, 1 ½ tsp garlic powder,1 ½ tsp minced dried garlic, 1 ½ tsp favorite seasoning
Tomato substitutions:
  • Use: 1 14 or15 oz. can of whole, diced or stewed tomatoes and increase water to achieve 23 oz, food process fresh tomatoes to achieve 2 cups
  • 8 oz tomato sauce and increase water/wine/broth to 15 oz
  • 4 oz tomato paste and increase water so the total of water and paste equal 22 oz
  • 15 oz (or close to that) jarred pasta sauce plus water to equal 23 oz
  • 23 oz tomato juice
  • 1 can tomato soup plus water/broth to total 23 oz
  • If no tomato options available use 23 oz of a blend of wine, stock/broth, canned soup of choice, and/or bouillon and water (you may wish to include some cumin and/or paprika to kick in some flavor)
Seasoning substitutions:
  • Instead of 1 tsp chili powder & 1/2 tsp paprika, consider one or a blend of up to 2 tsp: cumin, paprika, chipotle powder, chili powder, or steak seasoning/rub blend
  • ½ TBSP Italian seasoning, or skip all seasonings (including salt & pepper) and stir in half an envelope onion soup mix, or something similar, then taste at the end and adjust s & p.
 Herb substitutions:
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, cilantro, parsley; chopped
  • 1tsp of dried herb or herb combination like Italian seasoning
 Cheese substitutions:
  • Cheddar is very nice in this.
  • Switch the cheddar out for any cheese you have/enjoy.
  • In addition to the cheese, consider toping with other garnishes, like green onion tops, snipped fresh herbs, sesame seeds, everything seasoning, even bacon bits.