1. Bring a pot of about 3 quarts water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and the macaroni. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is just slightly underdone, about 2 minutes less than package directions. Drain, reserving ½ cup cooking liquid.
2. Meanwhile, cook grated onion with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Add garlic, beef, about 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Start breaking up clumps of beef, and cook 2 minutes. While beef is still mostly uncooked, add tomato sauce and sugar and gently continue to break up clumps. Add about ½ cup water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat and gently simmer about 10 minutes until beef has cooked, sauce has thickened and flavors have blended.
3. Taste beef mixture and add more salt, pepper and sugar if desired. Reduce heat to low and stir in drained macaroni. Cook, stirring, about 2 minutes until pasta is al dente. If sauce gets too thick, stir in a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Stir half of the cheese into the beef mixture. Sprinkle remaining cheese on individual servings.
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