One-Pot Cheeseburger Fusilli

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Large pot of cheeseburger pasta with a serving spoon and one garnished portion in a bowl.OH MY GOD, IT’S DDD DAY, FRIENDS!!!!!! IT’S FINALLY HERE!!!

Fair warning, I am going to be playing fast and loose with the expletives and exclamation points today. I have so many feeeeelings, and they must be expressed.

The Dude Diet Dinnertime is officially out in the world, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel completely surreal. We’ve come a long, long way since that very first Dude Diet blog post back in 2012, and I can’t quite believe there are now TWO Dude Diet books sitting on my shelf. (Sidenote: Please feel free to read the inaugural Dude Diet post for shits and giggles, but do NOT make the recipe. It’s terrible.)

I wasn’t sure it was possible, but I feel even more excited about this book’s release than I did about the OG Dude Diet. And that’s largely attributable to the fact that this book has felt like a community project in so many ways. Hundreds of blog readers/social media crew members were literally involved in its creation, from contributing recipe requests to acting as recipe testers, and for that, I am eternally grateful. (If that’s you, THANK YOU!!! This book is so much better for your Dude Diet enthusiasm, creative suggestions, and thoughtful recipe critiques. You da best.)

The advent of Instagram Stories—my favorite online medium—also allowed me to share so much more of the cookbook making process from start to finish this time around. Somehow that sharing made writing and producing this book feel less isolating/overwhelming and more fun, so thank you to those who have stuck with me and supported me on this creative rollercoaster. My roommate recently noted that, “I cried so much less with this book!” and I am quite proud of that accomplishment ;).

Speaking of my roommate, I feel the need to quickly acknowledge the wonders of my hilarious and endlessly inspiring muse, Logan Smith Unland. Logan has slayed his Dude Diet ambassadorship for SEVEN years now, and I’m thrilled to report his body is as much a wonderland as ever. He is living proof that The Dude Diet can be sustained long term, and I’m so proud to have hitched my wagon to his star. Oh, and this entire book was written and tested over the course of our first year of marriage, and for that reason, these recipes will forever hold an extra special place in my heart. I hope you love them as much as we do.

Close up of a bowl of one-pot cheeseburger pasta.Now that I’ve expressed a fraction of my gratitude, let’s get down to business. I know many of you have book in hand today, so I thought I’d share my personal favorite recipes (although it was nearly impossible to choose) for those seeking guidance on what to make first. They are…

Flank Steak Wraps with Chipotle Romesco (page 26)
Suped Up Sweet Potato Soup (page 55)
Lemon Orzo Skillet with Chicken and Artichokes (page 72)
Blackened Grouper with Peach-Jalapeño Salsa (page 183)
Sweet and Sour Pork (page 165)
Farrotto Carbonara (page 213)
Sour Cream and Onion Cauliflower (page 249)
Greens and Grains (page 226)
Crispy Duck Breasts with Balsamic Cherry Sauce *made into the tacos described in the headnote (page 208)
Spicy Tuna Poke Salad with Mango (page 128)

I also asked Logan to pick 10 favorites. He went rogue. He picked 18 and refused to narrow it down because 18 is “less than 20% of the recipes in the book, and he shouldn’t have to narrow it down any further.” Also, “people will want Daddy’s recommendations.” Couldn’t fight him on that, so here are Logan’s top 18 DDD picks…

Turkey Reuben Patty Melts (page 12)
Sheet Pan Sausage and Cauliflower Pitas (page 22)
Buffalo Chicken and White Bean Chili (page 44)
Summer Jambalaya with Chicken and Sausage (page 56)
Chicken Parm Quinoa Bake (page 64)
Hot Hawaiian Quinoa Bake (page 76)
Chicago Dog Baked Potatoes (page 91)
Buffalo Chicken Taquitos with Yogurt Ranch (page 94)
Supreme Pizzadillas (page 99)
Falafel Salad with BBQ Tahini (page 130)
Bulgogi Beef Bowls (page 146)
Nashville Hot Chicken Meatloaf Minis (page 153)
Cubano Stuffed Pork Chops (page 157)
Grilled Fish Tacos with Street Corn Guacamole (page 171)
Friday Night Pasta (page 194)
Slow-Cooker Brisket with Carrots and Onions (page 216)
BBQ Sweet Potato Hash with Chicken Sausage (page 257)
Steak and Egg Tacos (page 263)

One pot cheeseburger pasta in the pot with two plated servings.In case you don’t have the book (yet?) or your pre-order hasn’t arrived, I thought I’d share a recipe that both Logan and I had at the top of our individual favorites list: One-Pot Cheeseburger Fusilli. Given the crowd-pleasing nature of both pasta and cheeseburgers, it felt like a fitting choice for launch day. (Also, I shared Cheeseburger Quinoa Bake for the launch of DD, and I felt like starting a cheeseburger launch tradition. You know I love me a tradition.)

You’d think that the mash-up of two notoriously “unhealthy” items like pasta and cheeseburgers would be a Dude Diet disaster, but thanks to portion-controlled lean ground beef, fiber-rich whole grain pasta, and a sneaky serving of greens, this one-pot cheeseburger fusilli is actually quite the nutritional win. It was described by many a recipe tester as grown-up Hamburger Helper, which thrilled me as HH was, in fact, my inspiration. I also have it on good authority that small children are very much on board with this meal. Hallelujah.

The recipe serves 4 to 6 depending on hunger levels, but don’t let that deter you if you’re cooking for one or two. I’m thrilled to report that cheeseburger fusilli leftovers reheat surprisingly well—I recommend warming the pasta gently in a saucepan with an extra splash of beef broth for best results. (But leftovers are also pretty bomb eaten cold from a container if you’re feeling savage.)

two portions of easy cheeseburger pastaThere’s lots of exciting stuff to come over the next few months, and I can’t WAIT to see some of you on tour!! In the meantime, I would absolutely love to see what you’re cooking from the book. If you post any pictures of your creations on social media, please hashtag #dudedietdinnertime and tag @serenagwolf and/or @dudediet so that I can see, and like, and reshare, and compliment you on your culinary prowess!

As always, thank you for being here. I appreciate you. You look very nice today.

Your Weird Blog Lady

One-Pot Cheeseburger Fusilli Serves 4-6
Cheeseburger FusilliIngredients:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound 90% lean ground beef (preferably grass-fed)
1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
One 14.5-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes with their juices
One 8-ounce can tomato sauce (sometimes labeled tomato “puree”)
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
8 ounces brown rice or whole-wheat fusilli pasta
3 packed cups baby spinach, chopped
1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
For serving: (optional)
1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
½ small red onion, minced
2 teaspoons sesame seeds 


-Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the onion and garlic and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent and the garlic is fragrant.

Cheeseburger Fusilli-Add the ground beef, salt, paprika, and pepper to the skillet. Cook for about 7 minutes, stirring the meat and breaking it up into small pieces with a spatula, until no longer pink. Stir in the tomato paste, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce and cook for 2 more minutes.

Cheeseburger Fusilli-Stir in the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle.

Cheeseburger Fusilli-Stir in the beef broth and pasta.

Cheeseburger Fusilli-Simmer for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente. Stir in the spinach and cook just until wilted, about 1 minute, then stir in the cheese.

Cheeseburger Fusilli-Ladle the cheeseburger fusilli into bowls and top with avocado, red onion, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds if you’re feeling the garnishes.

cheeseburger pasta in a bowl with garnishes

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