This is one of my very favorite meals. It is a greek casserole that is to die for. Serve with a greek salad and crusty bread. As our daughter would say, "Mmmmm! Good stuff"
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 pound lean ground beef
2 cans (14-1/2-ounces each) diced tomatoes, drained
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1-3/4 teaspoons salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
8 ounces elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart half & half (whole milk can be used)
2 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, 7 minutes. Stir in beef and cook, breaking up meat with the back of a spoon, until browned, about 7 minutes. Spoon off all but 1 tablespoon of fat. Stir in tomatoes, oregano, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, 15 minutes. Uncover and simmer 15 minutes more.
2. Meanwhile, cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour, 1 minute. Increase heat to high, add the milk and remaining salt and pepper, and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Remove from heat.
3. In a small bowl, beat eggs. Beat 1 cup of the hot cream-sauce mixture into the eggs, then beat the egg mixture into the cream sauce. Whisk in 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
4. Heat oven to 375 degree F. Grease a shallow, 9x13-inch baking dish. Transfer half of the macaroni to prepared dish. Layer with 1-1/2 cups of the cheese sauce. Spread the beef mixture evenly over cheese sauce. Layer with the remaining macaroni, then sprinkle with feta cheese. Top with remaining cheese sauce and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake until golden and bubbling, 35 minutes. Let stand until firm. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Make it Kid Friendly: Replace the feta with mozzarella, which is milder.
Second-Meal Secret: Halve and seed bell peppers, lightly toss in olive oil, and roast on a jelly-roll pan in a 450 degree F oven for 15 minutes. Fill each with macaroni and beef, sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top and bake until heated through.
Serves 4 to 6.
710 calories per serving.