Beef and Macaroni Casserole

(8 servings)

1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 cups diced celery
1-1/2 pounds beef chuck, ground
1/2 cup beef stock
1 ( 6 oz) can tomato paste
1 (19 oz) can (2-1/2 cups) Italian-style tomatoes
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp chopped basil
8 ounces small elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
1 (10 oz) package frozen spinach, cooked and drained
1/2 cup buttered soft fresh breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat 2 Tbsp oil in large heavy skillet. Saute onions in it until tender and golden. Add garlic, celery and beef and cook until meat loses its red color.

Add stock, tomato paste, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add more stock if mixture becomes too thick.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Heat remaining 2 Tbsp oil and saute the mushrooms briefly. Add to the sauce with the oregano, basil, macaroni and spinach.

Pour into a buttered 3-quart casserole. Top with the crumbs mixed with the cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbly hot and light brown.