Baked Ziti w Bechamel
Why I Love This Recipe
I loves me some Ziti, but am not a super-huge fan of gooey melty Mozz on top. I mean, I LIKE it, don't get me wrong, but this is just another way of making it! It's kind of a cross between Baked Ziti and Pastitsio. Best of both worlds, right? I mean- they had the same Gods, the Greeks and the Romans- they just called them different names. That's what this is, basically. OK not really much of an analogy, right? Just give it a try. You will like, I promise.
Ingredients You'll Need
1/2+ lb ground MEAT- any mixture of beef, veal, pork, sausages, etc.
Salt & Pepper
3-5 cloves Garlic
1 Onion, diced
1tblsp Italian or Greek (or both) seasoning blend, like Penzey's
1/2lb Mushrooms, sliced
1 can Tomatoes, your choice
1/2 jar Marinara sauce, your choice
1lb Ziti, cooked al Dente
1/2 stick Butter
1/4c or so Wondra (or regular flour)
3+ c Milk
2 Eggs, beaten
1c shredded Parmesan or Romano (or blend of)
Heat oven to 350degrees.
Brown meats, onion and garlic in oil in lg Dutch oven.
Add mushrooms, season w/spices and salt & pepper, and cook 5+min til shrooms beginning to soften.
Add tomatoes, sauce and pasta; mix well and lower heat to simmer while you prepare the cheese sauce.
Melt butter in separate sauce pan over med-low heat.
Add flour and stir or whisk to blend well and make a roux; cook 3-4min, being careful not to scorch.
Add milk SLOWLY as you whisk into paste.
Once you've added all milk and while sauce is just warm not yet boiling, pour about 1/3 of it into bowl of beaten eggs and blend.
Add egg mixture back to saucepan, whisking well to incorporate. This prevents eggs from curdling; if you don't do this, sauce will have consistency of scrambled eggs, so this is important.
Increase heat and cook sauce to boiling and it will begin to thicken.
Add cheese and continue to cook til thick with a gravy-like consistency.
Remove sauce from heat; add HALF of sauce to meat & pasta and stir well.
You CAN cook in Dutch oven, OR you can transfer to a casserole dish sprayed w/cooking oil. I transfer to my deep French White casserole as it's prettier, cleans up and serves easier.
Pour remaining cheese sauce over top of pasta and bake til top is golden brown, approx 20-30min.
SERVE!!!!! Creamy and rich and just yummy, huh?