Most people have their own definition and fond memory of being served "the family goulash." A frayed, olive-oil-stained recipe card, smudged with tomato sauce, is proof positive our family goulash was prepared often, feeding a small nation who usually clambered for second helpings.
My amazing grandmother was a wonderful cook and my mentor. She was extremely health-conscious, as well as progressive in all aspects of her life. If she were present today, I would be honored to prepare "her" goulash with my slight tweaks of less sodium, more vegetables, organic lean beef and whole-grain pasta.
I think she would be more than OK with it ... and then she'd ask me for the recipe.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 ribs celery, washed, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 large carrot, washed, diced
pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Italian seasonings
1-2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 pound lean ground beef (90-93 percent)
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, juice included
1 can (14 ounces) beef broth, reduced/low sodium
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
2 teaspoons soy sauce, reduced/low sodium
1 1/4 cups small elbow macaroni (I recommend whole grain)
1 large or 2 small bay leaves
grated cheese garnish (optional)
In slow cooker, on high setting, roast vegetables (celery, onion, carrot) in olive oil, covered, for 90 minutes. Add ground beef, Italian seasonings, garlic and pepper. With a fork, break up beef, spreading it out in your slow cooker. Cover and cook for 90 minutes or until there is no pink in the meat.
Add in liquids: broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes (with juice) and soy sauce. Stir well, then add in bay leaf/leaves last, cover and reduce heat to low/simmer. Cook 2 hours. Add in elbow macaroni, stir, cover and cook 20-25 minutes. Test macaroni for doneness, remove bay leaf/leaves, then serve.