This is a fantastic ground beef casserole that is similar to lasagna except that instead of using mozzarella and ricotta cheeses, it calls for cheddar cheese and cream cheese. It also has sour cream, black olives, and green onions in it. I’ve been making this dish for years, but it wasn’t until I got ready to photograph it that I decided to make a change to the pasta. The original recipe called for egg noodles, and I decided to switch those out for penne pasta. My husband and I both agreed it was an improvement.
I grew up in California, and yet I have no idea why this was named California Casserole. But it really is delicious, and it’s easy to make, too. Perfect for a weeknight or any time. Enjoy!
Adapted by Winner Dinners/Origin Unknown
1 pound lean ground beef
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
8 ounces penne pasta, cooked according to package directions
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces sour cream
1 2.25-ounce can sliced black olives, drained
3/4 cup green onions, chopped
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
In a large skillet combine the beef, tomato sauce, tomato paste, garlic, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and sugar. Cook, stirring to break up the meat, and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the penne pasta according to package directions. Preheat the oven to 350. In a bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, sour cream, olives and green onions. Put 1 cup of sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 pan, then the pasta, the remaining sauce, and the cream cheese mixture. Top entire casserole with shredded cheese. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until bubbly.