– Onions are vegetables.

This post is dedicated to my brother, Brian, who said recently that he’s trying to eat “more cooked vegetables.” His resolution I find charming; it’s so much more idiosyncratic than one of the standard <yawn> resolutions, like trying to lose weight or save money.  A couple of years ago, on New Year’s Day, I resolved to stop using parentheticals in my writing. (I’m addicted to them.) I succeeded perfectly for one month, as most people do. Still, I keep trying.

Last night for dinner I made American chop suey, a staple of childhood and, really, just about one of the best New England comfort dishes we’ve got going. I realized, as threw it together (because it is one of those kinds of dishes), that it’s a painless way to get your cooked vegetables, because, except for the tomatoes, they are all verily disguised.  Aside from the canned tomatoes, there are two others: bell pepper and onion. Yes, onions are vegetables, too.

It’s cheap; it’s good; and it’s easy to remember the recipe, because everything is in quantities of one: 1 pound of this, 1 can of that, and so on.  However, American chop suey (also called ghoulash in the Midwest and chili-mac on public school cafeteria menus) is not photogenic.  Here’s the recipe, without photographic illustration, passed down to me by my mother and revised by me:

American Chop Suey

serves 6; leftovers keep well and taste better the next day

1 lb. extra lean ground beef
1 lb. macaroni (shells or elbows or bowties)
1 red bell pepper, chopped fine (green pepper? yuck)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine
1 T. vegetable oil
1 large can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes (Contadina brand my favorite)
1 good splash of Worcestershire sauce
1 shake of salt
1 shake of ground black pepper

Have all ingredients ready to go. Begin.

  1. Put water on to boil for the macaroni.
  2. In nonstick fry pan over medium heat, sauté the chopped red pepper and onion in the vegetable oil for a few minutes until soft. Transfer them to bowl and set aside.
  3. In same fry pan, sauté (or “scramble”) the ground beef until cooked through. With the spoon, break up the beef into really small pieces as it cooks. Be assiduous; don’t walk away.
  4. Is the water boiling yet? Cook according to package directions, al denté. (Note: American chop suey gets its bad rep from overcooked macaroni. Do not make mushy macaroni!)
  5. Meanwhile, add the sautéed peppers and onions back to the scrambled hamburger.  To this mixture, add the can of crushed tomatoes, and a dash of Worcestershire, salt, and ground pepper. Heat through, and keep over low heat as macaroni boils.
  6. Drain macaroni. Put the hamburger/tomato mix into the empty macaroni pot, and then add the drained macaroni and mix.
  7. Serve. Pass the salt, please. I like a lot.

Note to vegetarians: You can use Morningstar soy crumbles in place of the hamburger; you’ll just have to cook it less and the recipe will go faster. I have tried it this way, too, and it’s still delicious.

5 thoughts on “– Onions are vegetables.

  1. I agree with changing the green pepper to red. And my dad loves this dish, so when I am feeling bad about not having seen him for a week, I call him up and have him come over for it.

  2. Thank you, Rosemary.

    Bryan, I think it’s generous and amazing that you see your dad about once a week. Perhaps that’ll be my resolution for 2009: see Liz & Steve more often.

  3. Pingback: - Hidden badness « Leaf - Stitch - Word

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