The Greek answer to lasagne, variations of this dish are made throughout the Mediterranean. It has three key layers: the meat filling, the pasta and the béchamel sauce on top.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 kg minced beef
- 1½ tsp ground allspice
- ½ tsp dried mint
- 400 ml passata (puréed tomatoes)
- 500 g ziti pasta (see Note) or penne
- 40 g butter
- 4 egg whites
- 25 g (½ cup) grated kefalograviera (see Note), plus extra, to sprinkle
- 100 g butter
- 100 g (⅔ cups) plain flour
- 1 L milk, heated
- 4 egg yolks
- ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
- 35 g (¾ cup) grated kefalograviera (see Note)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and carrot and cook, stirring, for 6 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add tomato paste and beef and cook, breaking up mince with a wooden spoon, for 10 minutes or until browned all over. Stir through allspice and dried mint and season with salt and pepper. Add passata, cover and cook for 40 minutes or until thickened and rich. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
To make béchamel, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Gradually add milk, 1 cup at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then remove from heat and beat in egg yolks, nutmeg and kefalograviera. Season.
Preheat oven to 180°C. Cook pasta according to packet instructions, drain and refresh with cold running water. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add pasta, then stir in egg whites and grated kefalograviera. Stir for 2 minutes to bind egg whites to pasta. Press half the pasta into a deep lasagne dish, then top with meat sauce, then remaining pasta, then béchamel sauce. Sprinkle with kefalograviera. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden.
• Ziti pasta is a short, tubular pasta from select delis and supermarkets.
• Kefalograviera is a hard, salty, Greek sheep’s-milk cheese available from select delis and specialist food shops.
Photography Tom Donald.
As seen in Feast magazine, July 2014, Issue 33.