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Video: Give this tasty Greek dish a try for dinner

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    >>> in "today's kitchen," what's for dinner? how about a classic greek favorite. a pasta dish that's kind of a cross between lasagna and baked ziti. ellen is the author of "love laughter and lunch." good to see you.

    >> thank you. nice to be here.

    >> this is very exciting because kids like a pasta dish. what is this called?

    >> this is basically, we have -- making a lamb and we're adding --

    >> i love lamb. a lot of people aren't crazy about it. could you substitute beef or ground chicken?

    >> you can. you can mix and match it. this here, i want to talk to you about this dish a little bit because it's a very traditional cypriot dish. we're going to leave this to be juiced up and cooking here. and we have --

    >> could you do that for me?

    >> yes, thank you. thank you. we're going to add all that. and

    >> let it simmer?

    >> exactly.

    >> in the meantime. and then in the meantime we're going to make our bechamel sauce . i want to spend a little more time here because with bechamel sauce in the kitchen, in our kitchen, when you went to be initiated into the kitchen you had to learn how to make bechamel.

    >> sure. so butter --

    >> this is butter, flour and we're adding a little bit of milk right here. warmed up milk. so, you know, my mother always used to say you have to talk to your food.

    >> oh.

    >> so talking to your food now is you're going to be beautiful, and smooth and delicious, and that's how you --

    >> it's like talking to plants.

    >> exactly. exactly. so you stir all this up here. and it so this is the first thing i learnt to make.

    >> does all that end up in here?

    >> all end up in here and we get this beautiful, lovely bechamel.

    >> sometimes you use this for like a mac and cheese?

    >> exactly. exactly. and now here we have something very special, which is halumi cheese. it's a greek, cypriot cheese.

    >> it looks a little like mozzarella.

    >> it's a little like mozzarella. has the consistency. we put a little bit of nutmeg. we put our eggs. in here. and we stir all this up really well.

    >> on very low heat?

    >> it's a very low heat. see how yummy that looks?

    >> you don't want the eggs cooking. you'll have scrambled eggs .

    >> exactly. you're a cook, i can tell.

    >> no, i just like to eat.

    >> very lovely. so here. this is the first thing i learnt to make, which was very exciting.

    >> so we've got our sauce.

    >> yes.

    >> we're going to come back here.

    >> we're going to put this over here.

    >> right. we've got our lamb back here, as well.

    >> exactly. so here we are, so now we're going to assemble everything.

    >> you have cooked pasta?

    >> we have cooked pasta already done. and we're going to put this in here.

    >> all of it goes in?

    >> yep.

    >> okay. perfect.

    >> nice.

    >> let's do that. and then, thank you. we add a little bit of our cream in here.

    >> mm-hmm.

    >> make it all lovely.

    >> so unlike the lasagna you don't have to keep layering this.

    >> exactly. so this so we put this, and then we add the meat on top.

    >> and then once you do this you're going to put this into the oven.

    >> correct.

    >> what does this go in for?

    >> 20, 25 to 30 minutes . so you get the idea here so you layer, layer, layer. and then you put more bechamel sauce on top so it looks like this exactly.

    >> that was this.

    >> exactly.

    >> and you brought in --

    >> so here we have grape leaves , this is my greek salad . it has mint and olives and tomatoes.

    >> my favorite salad.

    >> this is olive bread. what's a cypriot meal without olive bread. and our dessert is hazel nut with orange blossom and syrup.

    >> helen, thank you so much. it was wonderful.

    >> nice to have you here.

    >> it was good having you.

TODAY recipes
updated 5/29/2012 8:28:50 AM ET 2012-05-29T12:28:50

Recipe: Makaronia tou fournou

  • For the ground meat:
  • 1.5 pounds lean minced beef
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup corn oil
  • 1 teaspoon parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon mint, finely chopped
  • 1 cup of ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • For the bechamel sauce:
  • 5 cups fresh whole milk
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3.4 cup of grated halloumi cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • For the pasta:
  • 1.5 pounds of thick macaroni
  • 1 cup grated halloumi cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dry mint, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the ground mixture:
Heat oil in a frying pan and add onions. When onions are soft, add the meat and stir until light brown.

Pour in the wine. When it boils, add parsley, mint, tomatoes, salt, pepper and tomato paste. Stir, cover and simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes.

Prepare the bechamel sauce:
Warm the milk in a saucepan. Melt butter in another pan and add flour to it slowly. Stir constantly with a whisk until mixture becomes a thick paste. Now take the heated milk and, little by little, add to the flour, stirring constantly until it becomes a thick cream. This must be done carefully to avoid any lumps. Remove from heat and add the egg yolks, grated cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Prepare the macaroni:
Boil water in a pot, adding salt, olive oil and then the macaroni. Cook for about six to eight minutes and stir a few times so that the pasta does not stick. Drain and put in a large bowl. Add pepper, mint, nutmeg and three teaspoons of the finished bechamel and mix well.

Grease your baking dish with butter. Add a thick layer of the macaroni. Sprinkle some of the cheese and cover with half of the bechamel. Add the meat and the rest of the macaroni on top. Cover with the remaining bechamel sauce and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the rest is cooked through.

Remove from the oven. Let it cool and carefully cut into squares.

The makaronia can be served hot or cold.

Recipe: Helen Greek salad

  • 6 tomatoes
  • 2 red onions, finely sliced
  • 2 halloumi cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup of mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup oregano
  • 1 cup of Kalamata olives, pitted
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1/3 cup of red wine vinegar
  • Touch of sea salt

Chop and slice all the ingredients and add them to a salad bowl.

Add the olive oil, vinegar and sea salt. Serve!

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