A simple casserole that can even be made on a weeknight.
Start with the ziti. Bring a large pot of water to boil, adding a couple teaspoons of salt. When the pasta is "al dente" (firm, but soft enough to bite easily), drain and cool. Don't rinse it. Return it to the pan and set aside.
Next, cook the beef. Heat a heavy skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil. Crumble the beef and add to the pan. Stir gently and cook until starting to brown.
Stir in the onions, garlic and spices and continue to cook until the beef is browned and the onions are soft and translucent. Stir in the can of tomatoes, using the liquid to deglaze the pan. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Now make the béchamel sauce.
Whisk the egg until froth with just a pinch of salt. Pour the egg over the pasta and gently stir until blended.
Wipe a 2 quart casserole with a paper towel that has olive oil on it. Pour the ziti in the bottom. Pour the meat mixture over it and gently press down. Spread the grated cheese over the top evenly, then pour the béchamel over it all.
Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 350° for about 30 minutes. The top will be browned and the sides will be bubbly. Remove from the heat and let "rest" for about 10 minutes before serving. Now dig in and enjoy!
Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Stir in the flour and cook until it becomes lightly browned and smells nutty. Stir constantly and don't leave it. You don't want it to burn. Using a whisk, stir in the milk, whisking while pouring. Cook on low, stirring constantly, until it becomes thick and creamy. Add salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
Using a whisk, stir in the milk, whisking while pouring. Cook on low, stirring constantly, until it becomes thick and creamy.
Add salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
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