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GREEK BAKED ZITI

While this recipe was a bit time consuming to make – it was worth the effort.  It has been non stop raining in our area which always makes me want comfort food – with a roaring fire in the fire place blazing away to bring in some added warmth and coziness to our dreary damp day.  Plus there will be leftovers for tomorrow – yummm, plus we are thinking this might even be better tasting than home made lasagna it was that good!

Having never seen Gluten Free Ziti Pasta I used Tinkyada Penne Pasta in this recipe which worked fine.  Although the package says to cook for 13-14 minutes, mine were done in about 10 minutes so check for doneness at the 10 min. mark.

BEEF TOMATO SAUCE:

1 1/2 lbs. extra lean ground beef

1 large onion, chopped

5 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/4 cup diced green pepper

2   398 ml. cans of tomato sauce

1 – 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice – check for taste

1 Tblsp. Greek Oregano – or regular is fine

2 tsp.  dried Basil or more to taste

2 tsp. dried garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

1 pkg. gluten free Tinkyada penne pasta

FOR THE BECHAMEL SAUCE:

1 1/2 Tblsp. butter

1 shallot, minced

1 1/2 cup milk (we use 2 % lactose free)

2 1/2 Tblsp. sweet rice flour

good pinch of ground nutmeg

2 tsp. garlic powder

generous 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

grated aged cheddar cheese

1/2 cup finely grated feta cheese

Heat up a dutch oven on medium heat – add in the ground beef breaking up with a spoon.  Brown well, then drain off excess liquid.  Add in the onion, garlic, green pepper, and seasonings.  Turn the heat down to low – stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.  Pour in the tomato sauce, lemon juice and stir well to combine.  Cook for 30 min. with a lid on cracked, then remove the lid and cook another 40 min. stirring occasionally.

While to sauce is cooking, heat up a medium sauce pan on low medium heat to melt the butter.  Add in the shallots, nutmeg, garlic powder, salt and pepper stirring about 5 minutes until the shallots are soft.  Sprinkle in the sweet rice flour whisking well about 2 minutes, then gradually pour in the milk, whisking well to remove any lumps.  Turn the heat up a bit continuing to whisk until sauce is thickened.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the Parmesan cheese.

Cook the pasta – drain well and add to the Bechamel Sauce stirring to combine thoroughly.  Lightly grease a 9×13 inch casserole dish with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Add the pasta/bechamel sauce to the casserole dish then another sprinkling of Parmesan cheese to cover. Then top with the beef tomato sauce, and generously cover with the grated aged cheddar cheese.  Top evenly with the grated feta cheese.  Bake in the oven about 30-40 minutes until bubbly.  Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.  Serve with a nice salad or vegetable of choice.

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