Bechamel pasta bake was a dish that I always loved but my mom would rarely make it growing up. I had the pleasure of enjoying it over family friends who were Egyptian and this is one of their specialty dishes known as macrona bechamal. I was hooked from then on! Even now into my adult years, I would find myself craving this bechamel pasta bake but intimidated to make it because of all the layers and flavors involved.
Let me tell you that making a bechamel sauce is one of the easiest things to do! To some, that is the most intimidating part but I promise you that it isn’t hard at all. Just a few steps and ingredients and you will have a tasty bechamel perfect for this pasta! The hearty meat sauce also adds a lot of flavors and to this dish. The meat is well seasoned and the sauce is nicely thickened with tomato paste.
What pasta is best for a bechamel pasta bake?
While any pasta would ultimately work, some would be much better than others in regards to this dish. I would typically go for long thick ziti noodles which is what I used in this recipe. Penne pasta would work great too as often that is used in Greek pastisio which is very similar to this bechamel pasta bake.
I really hope you this this recipe a try! My husband and I devoured it in one day because it was just addicting. The bechamel is creamy, cheesy, and has the perfect crust. The meat layer is hearty and flavorful and just gives the whole meal even more sustenance. The pasta is cooked and baked to perfection and one bite with all 3 components is just heavenly! Let me know what you think in the comments!
Bechamel Pasta Bake
- 4 cups Whole Milk
- 6 tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 1/3 cup All-purpose Flour
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- 1 cup Shredded Mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan cheese
- 12 oz Penne Pasta or thin ziti noodles or even shells cooked al dente
- 3 tbsp Parmesan Cheese
- 1 lb Ground Beef
- 4 tbsp Tomato Paste
- 1/2 cup Stock of choice
- 1 cup Tomatoes diced
- 1 Onion diced
- 4 Garlic cloves diced
- 1.5 tbsp Seven Spice
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- In a pot, add the butter and allow for it to melt. Then, add the flour to this and mix together. This will develop a roux. Allow the roux to get lightly caramelized but not too brown. Start adding in 1 cup of milk at a time to this while stirring consistently. You do not want to leave the bechamel; it can burn easily.
- Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg and continue stirring on medium heat until the sauce starts to thicken. This will take a few minutes. At that point, add in both types of cheese and mix together.
- Once you have a creamy and smooth sauce then the bechamel is ready to go and just set it aside covered while working on the meat sauce.
- First, add olive oil to a pan. To that, add the minced onions and garlic. Let it cook for a few minutes until fragrant then add in the cherry tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and stir.
- Next, add in the ground beef and make sure to break it apart into smaller pieces into the onions, garlic, and tomato. To this, season with salt, pepper, all spice,garlic powder, and add the tomato paste.
- Allow for all these flavors to cook with eachother until meat is cooked through. Add in the stock and mix everything together. Let this come to a simmer for a few minutes and make a nice hearty sauce. Taste and see if it needs more seasoning. Then, set aside.
- Spray a lasagna pan with cooking spray. Add the cooked pasta evenly to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with some salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese.
- Next, add the meat sauce to the top of the pasta and spread that out evenly.
- Lastly, add the bechamel sauce to the top of the meat sauce and spread that out evenly. If the bechamel got too thick while set aside, just warm it up on the stove top until it is looser in consistency then pour on top.
- Sprinkle with a little more salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Bake in a 400 F oven for about 45 minutes uncovered. The top should be lightly browned; that is signal it is ready to be enjoyed. Then, take out and allow to cool to room temperature for a good 30 minutes before slicing through. This is so the bechamel has set. Then, enjoy as is or with a side of house salad!