2 quarts water
Salt to taste
1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 pound lean ground beef chuck or round steak
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or Italian parsley
1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
2 cups cubed or shredded Cheddar cheese
Cayenne pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Bring the water with salt to a boil. Add the macaroni; stir and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. Do not overcook. Drain and rinse under cold water.
In a skillet, heat the oil and add the onions, celery, green pepper and garlic. Cook, stirring, until wilted. Add the meat, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the meat loses its red color. Add the oregano, basil and tomatoes. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the cooked macaroni. Blend well and set aside. Keep warm.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan, and stir in the flour with a wire whisk until well-blended. Add the milk, stirring rapidly, and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes.
Remove the sauce from the heat, and stir in the Cheddar cheese, cayenne, nutmeg, and more salt and pepper to taste. Stir until the cheese melts.
Spoon the macaroni mixture into a baking dish measuring 7 by 10 by 2 1/2 inches. Pour the cheese sauce evenly over the macaroni mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and place under the broiler (about 4 to 5 inches from the heat source) until it is hot, bubbling and lightly browned.