Sometimes certain dishes fall off our radars. In many cases, it’s not that we stop liking them. We just forget about them. Such is the case with this Hamburger Helper-Roni. Diane (The Whole Gang) had mentioned long ago that she’d made a homemade gluten-free, dairy-free version of Hamburger Helper that was less expensive, tastier, and far better for you than the boxed versions lining the grocery store shelves. She challenged her readers to come up with their own gluten-free versions.
Suddenly I remembered homemade rice-a-roni from The Tightwad Gazette newsletter years earlier. I had previously made that recipe gluten-full and while I enjoyed it then, and Mr. GFE—aka Carnivore Man—loved it, I thought it tasted too much of meat and not much else. It needed “something more.” Fresh Roma tomatoes and zucchini easily supplied the major part of the “something more,” plus I added additional rice, spaghetti noodles, and seasonings. Now I’m happy to say that this dish is back in our regular meal rotation! I think if you give it a try, you’ll see why.
If you’d like some other delicious Hamburger Helper style meals, be sure to check out Diane’s great recipe—along with a few others—here!
- ¾ - 1 pound ground beef (optional, we use ground venison; see notes for vegan option)
- about 4 tbsp oil or butter
- 1 cup rice (see notes)
- 1 cup gluten-free spaghetti noodles, broken into smaller pieces
- about ¼ cup onion, chopped (or ½ tsp onion powder)
- 3 cups chicken or beef broth (or vegetable broth for vegan option; see notes)
- 1 tsp dried parsley flakes or other dried or fresh herbs of choice (optional, but they add a lot to the dish)
- about 2 tsp or so of minced garlic (or about 1 tsp garlic powder)
- about 1 tsp of salt (to taste, omit if using purchased broth)
- about 1 to 1½ cups of fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables of choice (chopped, I used fresh tomatoes and zucchini in the version shown)
- Brown and drain ground beef; set aside.
- Wipe skillet and heat oil to medium-high in large, deep skillet.
- Add rice and pasta. Stir well to coat with oil and cook a minute or so.
- Add ground beef and seasonings; stir well.
- Add broth and onion. Stir and bring to a boil.
- Add any other vegetables (see notes). Stir and then reduce heat to about medium low, cover and simmer about 20 minutes until rice is tender. Add water in small amounts (1/4 to ½ cup) if needed during the cooking process.
Brown Rice: I use long-grain white rice for this dish; brown rice will require some adjustment to cooking time and instructions. I would probably sauté the brown rice in oil by itself for a few minutes and then cook it alone in the broth for 10 to 15 minutes before I added any other ingredients. The total cooking time for this dish will be longer if brown rice is used, of course. Therefore, brown rice is a great candidate for cooking and freezing ahead of time so that one can get dinner on the table faster.
Quinoa: I suspect that quinoa would be wonderful in this Hamburger Helper-Roni, too.
Vegan: For a vegan option, replace ground beef with protein of choice or more vegetables or just use vegetable amounts as called for and reduce broth as needed. Vegetables that cook more quickly may be added about halfway through the simmering/cooking down process.
Cheese: If you wish, a sprinkle of cheese may be added at the end of the cooking time. Mr. GFE likes fresh Parmesan on his, so I added that once I’d plated his food. I enjoy mine with or without cheese.
See other gfe (and gfe-style) skillet suppers: