I was rather pleased with myself when I came up with this dish because I took myself slightly out of my comfort zone in two ways - firstly, by using fresh, home-grown herbs for the first time, and secondly by going freestyle with the remaining authentic Greek ingredients from my Kitchen Nomad box, without relying on their recipes. The result was lovely - phew !
Greek pasta bake
drizzle of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
500g lamb or beef mince
seasoning : salt, black pepper, oregano, coriander, cumin, Greek spices plus fresh coriander
a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 cups Orzo pasta (or any small pasta)
cheese sauce (homemade or from a packet if you're in a rush !) made with 1/2 pint milk
3 tomatoes, sliced
Slice the onions and gently fry them in a drizzle of olive oil for a few minutes. Add the mince and cook for 10 minutes, then add the spices.
In a separate pot, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until barely al dente. (It will continue cooking in the oven.)
I wanted to use up the Greek spices from my Kitchen Nomad box because my spice rack is overflowing - this is Dukkah, generally made with a mix of hazelnuts, sesame seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black pepper and salt. It can be eaten as a starter with bread dipped in olive oil (which is rather yummy) but I decided to throw the rest in the pot.
I also added salt, black pepper, oregano, smoked paprika and cumin (but you could add any combination of spices that you desire) and I chopped off some coriander leaves from the pot on the kitchen windowsill.
Once the spices are mixed in, add a tin of tomatoes and a can full of water.
Leave to simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce has reduced to a thick bolognese-like consistency. Adjust the seasoning.
Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Mix well and pour into an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with fresh coriander.
Make cheese sauce by melting butter, stirring in flour over a low heat to make a roux (thick floury paste) then adding 1/2 pint milk, whisking constantly until it creates a thick, lump-free sauce. Add grated cheese and whisk until smooth. (Or, if you're short on time, you can use a packet mix - I won't tell anyone !). Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta.
Lay slices of tomato over the top and put into a preheated oven for 20 minutes until the tomatoes are cooked through. Serve with salad and fresh crusty bread.
As I'm branching out into fresh herbs, I'm linking up to the Cooking with Herbs Linky at Lavender and Lovage.
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