Greek hamburger helper – ground beef, pasta, yogurt sauce – recipe


If you need to know what to do with the yogurt, this is it.





about 2 cups plain Greek style yogurt – see notes

1/2 teaspoon dried mint

1/4 teaspoon dill

1 tablespoons parsley, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced finely

Mix yogurt, mint, dill, garlic and parsley together in a bowl.  Cover and refrigerate.


1 pound ground beef

1 large onion, chopped finely – see notes

2 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons dried basil

salt and pepper

In a skillet, cook onions in butter until lightly browned.

In a second skillet, cook ground beef with salt and pepper until done.  Near the end of cooking, mix in the basil and heat for about 2 minutes.  Transfer the beef to the skillet with the cooked onions, leaving any excess fat behind.  Mix the beef with the onions.

Paprika Drizzle

2 tablespoons butter

3/4 teaspoon paprika

Melt the butter in a small skillet over low heat.  Stir in the paprika and heat on low for a few minutes to warm.


1/2 pound pasta – spirals used here

Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Drain and spray with a few shots of cold water to stop further cooking.  The tri-color Rotini adds a little bit extra color to the dish.


The simple thing to do is just mix it all together, except the drizzle,  in a large bowl and divide up into plates for serving. Then spoon some of the drizzle over each plate.

To add a little extra presentation, try this in either individual bowls or a large serving bowl to be mixed at the table.  Place the pasta in a bowl.  With a tablespoon, make an indentation in the center of the bowl pushing the pasta up the sides of the bowl slightly.  Take the meat mixture a tablespoon at a time and place it in the center of the pasta.  Push gently down on the meat with each tablespoon added to further push the pasta away from the center.  When the meat is in the bowl, take another spoon and press in the center of the meat to form an indentation.  Add the yogurt sauce a spoonful at a time  to the center of the meat.  When the sauce is added, indent the center of the sauce by pressing down with a teaspoon.  With a clean teaspoon, carefully add the paprika drizzle to the center of the sauce.   See the picture below.  From experience, there’s about a serving and a half in the picture.  If you’re making individual bowls like this (which is a plain old soup bowl), use less than pictured.


How does it taste?  It’s definitely different from Italian pasta dishes.  There are a variety of flavors that pop in your mouth as you eat.  Different parts of your mouth may taste different flavors at the same time.  The caramelized onions in butter add an extra richness that’s not obtained by the usual cooking of onions directly with the ground beef.  In fact another half or whole onion would probably taste even richer.  If you taste the sauce before adding to the meat and pasta, it will have a strong  garlic flavor.  However, once mixed in with the other ingredients, the strength dissipates.

What’s Greek yogurt?  Let’s call it “strained” yogurt.  The extra fluid in the yogurt is allowed to drain out leaving behind a thicker yogurt.  Here Greek yogurt was made from plain yogurt with a plastic funnel and a coffee filter.  Place the funnel in a tall glass.  Place the filter paper in the funnel.  Spoon the yogurt into the filter paper.  It will only take about 15 minutes to get a good quantity of fluid out of the yogurt.  You’ll see the fluid accumulate in the glass.  By best means possible, remove the yogurt from the filter paper to a bowl.  It will take about 3 small yogurt containers to make the approximately 2 cups of Greek style yogurt used here.  You may need to divide the yogurt into batches depending on the size of the funnel.

Where can I find plain Greek yogurt, or even plain yogurt?  Good questions.  Trader Joe’s sells 32 ounces of plain yogurt for $2.99.  Not a bad price.  I didn’t see any Greek style yogurt at TJ, but then the search was a short one.  If you happen to have a Middle Eastern grocery store in your neighborhood (I don’t) try them.   Search your supermarket dairy cases carefully.  About 99% of supermarket yogurt is going to have additional ingredients, especially sweeteners.  I really don’t think they’re going to work well in this recipe.  To find that 1%, the best approach is probably to ask someone from the supermarket.

As a last resort, try making your own yogurt.  That’s what was used here.  And you know how one thing leads to another.  All that plain yogurt needed a purpose.  So here we are, a recipe that uses homemade yogurt.


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One Response to “Greek hamburger helper – ground beef, pasta, yogurt sauce – recipe”

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