Greek Pasta Bake

This is a recipe from The Taste Of Home cookbook that I received for winning December’s Iron Cupcake: Earth challenge.  It’s called Greek Pasta Bake, and I was tempted into making it because 1) I like pasta bakes, and 2) it had a nice list of ingredients.  The description also tempted me into making this:  

“Lemon and herbs are complemented by the subtle taste of cinnamon in this pasta bake.”

While cooking on the stove, the meat sauce (the meat called for was a mix of beef and lamb, but my store only had beef, so I used all beef) for this recipe smelled fabulous.  Interestingly, after adding the cinnamon to the sauce, it definitely took on a different scent and it filled the house with the pleasing aroma.

After taking the dish out of the oven, I thought perhaps that the baking time might have been a little too long, at least for my tastes, as the rigatoni pasta on top became hard and chewy, as well as the crumbled feta cheese.

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The taste of the finished product was just so-so.  I could definitely taste a subtle hint of cinnamon, as the description noted.  But I just wasn’t too pleased with the overall taste of the pasta bake and I will probably not be making this again.

Greek Pasta Bake
Adapted from The Taste Of Home Cookbook

Ingredients
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground lamb
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups uncooked rigatoni or large tube pasta
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Method
In a large skillet, cook beef and lamb over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.  Stir in onion, garlic, oregano, basil, salt, pepper and thyme; mix well.  Add the tomato sauce, tomatoes and lemon juice.

Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the sugar and cinnamon.  Simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions; drain.  Stir into meat mixture.  Transfer to a greased 2-quart baking dish.  Sprinkle with feta cheese.

Cover and bake at 325F for 45 minutes.  Uncover; bake 15 minutes longer or until heated through.

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