Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Greek Baked Ziti

I'm not sure what's gotten into me, but I am turning into one adventurous momma in the kitchen! To me, cinnamon and nutmeg just don't belong in a meaty pasta dish, and we usually don't love white sauces. But when Cody said he would eat this if I tried it, this recipe had to happen! Guess what! Everyone loved it!
Here's another great recipe courtesy of RR...of course, I had to tweak it a little bit, you'll see!

Greek Baked Ziti

  • Salt
  • 1 pound ziti
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 pound ground lamb (I used ground turkey...can't you hear the sweet baa-baa, don't be heartless)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped or grated
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped
  • 2 pinches ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon (about 1/3 palmful) allspice
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 15-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups milk (I used low-fat milk and it worked great!)
  • A few grates fresh nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, divided
  • 2 pitas, toasted or 1 1/2 cups pita chips (I used gourmet pretzel chips...)
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Place a large pot of water over high heat to cook the pasta. When the water is boiling, add some salt and drop the pasta. Cook to al dente according to package directions. Drain the pasta and reserve.
Place a medium pot over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add the ground lamb to the pot and cook until golden brown, 5-6 minutes.
Add the onion, garlic, carrot, thyme, cinnamon and allspice to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the veggies are tender, 4-5 minutes.
Add the can of tomatoes to the pot and gently break them up with a potato masher or back of a wooden spoon. Simmer the sauce until lightly thickened, 4-5 minutes.
While the sauce is working, place another medium pot over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons butter. When the butter is melted, sprinkle in the flour and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk the milk and nutmeg into the butter-flour mixture, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer until thickened, 3-4 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the grated cheese (about 2 handfuls, just eyeball it) into the sauce.
In the bowl of a food processor, crush up the toasted pita or pita chips to make coarse breadcrumbs. (You can also do make the breadcrumbs in a large plastic food bag using a rolling pin or frying pan to smash them up.) Transfer the crumbs to a small bowl and toss with the remaining cheese and parsley. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and add it to the breadcrumb-cheese mixture.

The critics' responses:
Oh wow! Can we have this every night for supper?
(She says that to all meals she really likes!)
Mmmmm....have to keep my eyes closed to it's dreamy goodness....

Mmm....mmmm....good!! I like this!!!

This obviously makes enough to feed a small army!
The leftovers tasted even better!


Following The Fosters said...

i watched RR make this the other day too...but i thought there is no way i would cook lamb! good idea, substituing turkey, i may have to try it!