Beef Ziti with Silky Bechamel


Meat Sauce
2 lbs lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cans (each 14 oz/398 mL) diced tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes

Béchamel Sauce

1/3 cup butter
1/4 all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp salt

1 lb (500g) ziti pasta
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C) and grease a13- by 9-inch glass baking dish.

Meat Sauce: In a large nonstick skillet, over medium-high heat, cook beef, garlic and onion, breaking beef up with the back of a spoon, for 8 to 10 minutes or until beef is no longer pink. Drain off fat.

Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, salt, oregano, basil, thyme and hot pepper flakes; bring to a boil. Cover, leaving lid ajar, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 40 minutes or until some of the liquid has evaporated but sauce is still moist.

Béchamel Sauce:
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle with flour and cook, whisking constantly, for about 6 minutes or until roux is golden.

In another medium saucepan, bring milk to the boiling point over medium heat. Gradually add to roux in a steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking. Cook, whisking constantly, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan and salt until cheese is melted. Keep warm.

In a large pot of boiling water, cook ziti according to package directions until just tender. Drain, transfer pasta to a large bowl and stir in 1 cup of the béchamel sauce.

Spread one-third of the ziti in prepared baking dish. Spread half the meat sauce evenly over top. Add another layer of ziti and top with the remaining meat sauce. Layer the remaining pasta on top. Pout the remaining béchamel sauce evenly over top.

Cover and bake in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until bubbling. Sprinkle with mozzarella and bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

This recipe is also linked to...

It's a Blog Party's Fall Fest Recipes 2011
Food on Friday: Stews and Casseroles 

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