It's a Greek comfort food that's traditionally prepared with lamb, but ground beef works just as well. It's name is of Italian origin, and is believed to be a marriage of Italian lasagna and Greek moussaka. Another little unexpected ingredient, but very Mediterranean, is the addition of cinnamon, allspice or nutmeg. You'll see recipes using one of those. I've made it with cinnamon and nutmeg, preferring the nutmeg most. The addition of any of those spices adds a little different, unexpected flavor that's very pleasing.
I like to buy whole nutmeg and grate as I need. Store them in the frig for a longer life.
My kids love it, and it makes great left overs. It's one of those dishes that's actually better the next day. And it can be prepared and assembled ahead of time and baked off right before serving.
I warn you though, you'll feel like you're using virtually every pan/pot out of your cupboard! Like any yummy, family-friendly dish, it's worth it!
Pasta's done. Just waiting on that meat to finish browning.
This dish is combined of three parts:
1 lb dry pasta - ziti, macaroni or pene
4 tsp butter
1/4 c grated Parm cheese
1 dash nutmeg
salt and papper to taste
3 eggs lightly beaten
2 tbs butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed/minced
1-1/2 lbs ground beef
1/4 c tomato paste
1/2 c dry red wine (I used a Merlot, or you could omit adding a bit extra broth.)
1/2 c vege broth (Beef broth works well too)
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c butter
1/2 cup flour
3 c milk
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 baking dish.
Cook pasta according to package directions
till al dente. Drain and return to pan.
Melt butter and pour over pasta. Add 1/4 c of Parm cheese, nutmeg, salt, pepper and toss well. Allow to cool a bit. Add eggs and toss again. Set aside.
Saute onion and garlic in butter until soft and translucent. Increase heat and add ground beef until browned. Add tomato paste, wine, broth, parsley, salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes.
Have you tried the paste in a tube? It's fantastic!
Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in flour and cook for about 2 minutes. Pour in milk all at once and bring to a boil whisking constantly. Gently boil for 1 minute until thick and creamy. Add nutmeg, salt, pepper and cool slightly before adding egg. Or, slowly temper the egg by adding small amounts of the warm cream sauce. After egg is added, combine half the cream sauce with the meat sauce.
Evenly spoon half the prepared pasta into the greased baking dish. Atop the first layer of pasta, add all the meat sauce. Top the meat sauce with the remaining pasta. Pour the cream sauce on top spreading evenly over the pasta. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 1o minutes before serving.
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