Friday, March 11, 2011

Pasta Bake with Lamb and Feta

This dish is a great combination of flavors. I had to hold myself back not to eat the whole thing alone (or at least to try). It took HubbyGrouch a few bites but he decided that although unusual and different, he liked his dinner. The recipe is adapted from Bon Appetit's "Moroccan-Spiced Pastitsio with Lamb and Feta".

2 tbsp olive oil
1 big red onion, chopped
1 lb ground lamb
1 tsp garlic powder
1  28-oz can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp dried mint
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 1/2 tbsp ras-el-hanout
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups 2% milk
6 1/2 tbsp butter
6 tbsp all purpose flour
3 large eggs, separated
8 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1 pound penne rigate or spirali pasta
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, sauté until onions soften, about 5 minutes. Add lamb, cook until brown, about 8 minutes, breaking it into small pieces. Add tomatoes with juice, garlic, mint, parsley, ras-el-hanout, tomato paste, cumin and cinnamon. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Heat 2 cups of milk. Melt 5 tbsp butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until smooth. Cook over low heat for 3-4 minutes until golden. Gradually add hot milk, whisking sauce until smooth. Whisk remaining milk and 3 egg yolks, then whisk into sauce. Add feta. Bring sauce to a boil, whisking often. Simmer until sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes, breaking up feta with a potato masher. Season with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter a deep 14-cup baking dish. Cook pasta al dente. Drain pasta, mix in remaining butter in, then add egg whites an 1/4 cup parmesan. Mix well. Spread half the pasta in the baking dish. Top with the meat sauce, then remaining pasta. Spoon cheese sauce over, sprinkle with remaining parmesan. Bake until heated through and top is golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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