This Easy Macaroni recipe has a flavor that’s wonderfully different than what you might be used to. Tender macaroni is cooked in a spicy, rich tomato-based sauce, with minced onion, hints of garlic, and diced beef. It just might be a new family favorite!
Assyrians don’t consume a whole lot of pasta. In fact, I can only think of two pasta recipes that my mother prepared. One was a stuffed shells recipe, which was not a traditional recipe, but something she concocted. The other is this easy Macaroni recipe.
This recipe has a very Assyrian name; are you ready for it? We call this dish “Ma’caron.” Ok, so I’m joking, pasta is so NOT Assyrian, that it doesn’t even have a proper Assyrian name. None that I know of, anyways. So when an Assyrian friend offers you “Ma’caron” most likely, they’re referring to this dish.
To make this pasta dish, mom used Bucatini pasta. According to Pastafits.org:
The name bucatini comes from Italian: buco, meaning “hole,” while bucato means “pierced.”
Bucatini looks like long straws, and about the same size too. Mom used to break the pasta into thirds or fourths before cooking it. However, since Bucatini isn’t as easy to find as other kinds of pasta, you can easily substitute Elbow Macaroni, Penne, or Ziti.
Mom’s Easy Macaroni Recipe
This recipe is the Assyrian version of the Italian Baked Pasta you might be more familiar with. One major difference is that Assyrians don’t add cheese to their macaroni. Instead, we like to serve this pasta dish with a salad. Specifically, Middle Eastern Salad, which we call “Zalata.”
Inevitably, the salad ends up mixed into the pasta, since it’s poured over the pasta, instead of in a separate bowl. The tangy lemon and olive oil salad dressing adds even more flavor to the already delicious macaroni. I love soaking up the juices with a piece of bread. After all, pasta doesn’t have enough carbs in it already… ?
Another difference between Italian baked pasta and mom’s recipe is that mom was adamant about using diced beef instead of ground beef. She felt the same way about using ground beef when making dolma. Mom always frowned upon those who used ground meat in these two recipes.
She was such a character. I am not as rigid when it comes to cooking, but I still find myself following mom’s “cooking rules.”
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Easy Macaroni Recipe
- ¾ lb. sirloin (diced)
- 1 T. salt (divided)
- 3½ cups elbow pasta or ziti
- ¼ cup olive oil (divided)
- 1 small onion (minced)
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- 1 T. paprika
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- ½ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
- 6 oz can tomato paste
- Place diced meat into a 6-quart Dutch oven.
- Cover with two cups of water and cook over medium heat until the water gets cloudy and foamy.
- Drain the meat into a colander and run under cold water. Rinse the pot and place the meat back inside, along with two more cups of water, and one teaspoon of salt.
- Cook, covered for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add water, one teaspoon of salt, and one tablespoon of oil to another pot. Bring to a boil, then add the pasta and stir.
- Cook for 12 minutes, or until the pasta is tender, then drain.
- When 30 minutes have elapsed, remove diced meat from the pot and drain any remaining liquid.
- Add remaining oil, onion, and garlic to the same pot and cook for one minute.
- Add the diced meat and cook for an additional minute.
- Stir in the paprika, remaining salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and tomato paste.
- Add 3/4 cups of water to the sauce ingredients and mix to combine.
- When the pasta is ready, drain and add to the pot with the tomato sauce. Stir to combine.
- Cover and cook over low heat for an additional fifteen minutes.
- Serve with Middle Eastern Salad.