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Macarona Bechamel

A saucy meaty pasta bake with a creamy homemade bechamel. Such a delicious comfort dish!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Diet Halal
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Resting Time 10 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 558kcal

Ingredients

For the meat sauce:

  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 lb ground beef 500 g
  • 1 teaspoon all spice or seven spices
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can tomato sauce (15 oz or 400g)
  • 1 carton tomato paste 5 oz or 135 g
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano and 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup hot water

For the béchamel:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 1/2 stick, 56 g
  • 1/4 cup flour 31g
  • 2 cups full fat milk 480 ml
  • 1 cup heavy cream 230 ml
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch nutmeg, optional

For assembling:

  • 1 pack penne pasta 14 oz or 400 g
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese 170 g

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta until al dente according to package instructions, then drain and set aside. Make sure not to overcook because pasta will continue to cook in the oven.

For the meat sauce:

  • In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, heat the vegetable oil then sauté the onion for a few minutes until soft and translucent. Add the ground beef and cook until it browns, breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon to prevent clumps. If you like, drain the fat from the meat before continuing.
  • Add the all spice or seven spices, cinnamon, salt, black pepper, and minced garlic.
  • Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and brown sugar. Boil for 5 minutes. Add the water, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

To make the béchamel:

  • In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter with the flour. Whisk until the mixture becomes golden brown (About 3 minutes).
  • Warm the milk and heavy cream by combining them in a large microwave safe bowl for a minute so until warm but not boiling.
  • Pour the warm milk and cream over the butter/flour mixture, whisking constantly. Add the garlic, salt and pepper, and nutmeg if using. Reduce the heat to medium low (so mixture simmers) and continue to whisk constantly until mixture has thickened. This will take a good 8-10 minutes.
  • Once béchamel sauce has formed, turn off the heat and set pan aside to cool slightly.

To assemble:

  • Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F). Coat the bottom of a 9x13 inch pyrex or ceramic baking pan with a tablespoon or so of béchamel sauce so the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom.
  • Add 1/2 cup of bechamel sauce to the cooked pasta, and stir to combine.
  • Layer the baking dish with half of the pasta, then add all of the meat sauce and spread evenly. Add the second half of the pasta, then all the remaining bechamel sauce. Spread evenly.
  • Bake for 35 minutes until bechamel has turned golden brown, then optional but recommended, add 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese evenly to the top and return to the oven and broil for an additional 3-5 minutes until cheese is golden brown and bubbling. Let rest 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Video

Notes

This recipe closely mimics that of my favorite lasagna ever, so try that out too!
You can leave out the mozzarella cheese for a more authentic macarona bechamel, but I love the stretchiness the melted cheese gives.
You can use all spice, seven spices, or any mixed spices with the ground beef. You can also make this a vegetarian dish by omitting the beef and instead adding diced veggies like spinach and mushrooms.
Storing leftovers: Leftover macarona will store well tightly covered in the fridge for 3-4 days. Leftovers will be delicious, heated in the microwave or in the oven.
Freezing macarona: Macarona bechamel freezes very well, for 4-6 months tightly wrapped in the freezer. You can freeze it either before baking in the oven or after, but my preference would be before baking.
You can thaw overnight, or just bake the bechamel directly from frozen adding some time to the baking.

Nutrition

Serving: 540g | Calories: 558kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 47g | Saturated Fat: 24g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 140mg | Sodium: 632mg | Potassium: 423mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1057IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 227mg | Iron: 2mg