BAKED ZITI W BECHAMEL
- Cooking Time: 1hr +/-
- Servings: 6-8
- Preparation Time: 5min
- 1/2+ lb ground MEAT- any mixture of beef, veal, pork, sausages, etc.
- Olive Oil
- 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?
NotesI 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.
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