I was looking for a casserole recipe that was a little different and I came across this Greek Baked Ziti Recipe. There is a little bit of prep time involved but it is well worth the effort. The recipe is layered with a creamy cheese sauce mixed into the Ziti at the bottom of the dish which gives this casserole a unique texture. The addition of the cinnamon make me a little nervous because I thought that seasoning may dominate the dish – but there is just enough so you just get a light hint of the cinnamon.
If you’re looking for a one dish meal that’s a little different give this one a try, it’s really good; my wife loved it! This is a large recipe and would be great for a pot luck, or graduation party dish.
- 12 ounces ziti pasta
- 1 small yellow onion (chopped)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves (minced)
- 1½ pounds lean ground beef
- 2 cans tomato sauce (15 ounces each)
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt (divided)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups milk
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Vegetable cooking spray
- 1 package shredded mozzarella cheese (8 ounces – 2 cups)
- ⅓ cup dry breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Cook pasta according to package directions for firm; drain. (I like to sprinkle and mix in a little olive oil to keep the pasta from taking on a dry look while it’s sitting)
- In a large skillet over medium high heat cook onion until tender. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the burger to the onion mixture and cook burger until no longer pink inside – stirring and breaking up the burger as you cook; drain any excess fat. Stir in the tomato sauce and lemon juice and then season with oregano, sugar, cinnamon, and one teaspoon of salt; cook until heated through. (About 2 minutes)
- In a large saucepan over low heat melt the butter, whisk in the flour and cook while stirring for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk – bring the mixture to a high simmer and cook until mixture has thickened and is bubbly. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and season with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper.
- Lightly spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with cooking spray. Mix the cheese sauce into the Ziti and place the mixture over bottom of the casserole dish. Layer the meat mixture over the top of the Ziti and top with the mozzarella cheese, sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and casserole is hot and bubbly.
- Let casserole rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Adapted from MyRecipes