Pasta · Vegetables

Baked Spaghetti with Eggplants and Bechamel Sauce

«I thought of combining some layers by putting pasta along with eggplants, covering them in tomato sauce and topping all this with silky smooth and cheesy bechamel sauce, all in one lovely baking pan!  Brilliant, ha?»

Hello there friends! How are you?

Me, well..still a little blue, but Nikos is taking good care of me, helping me find my usual bright spirits again. He bought me my favorite Cheetos ( he’s a keeper, I know…) and showered me with hugs and kisses, which made me feel warm and safe!

At the weekend, he was away with his best man (and childhood friend) at the latter’s village in the Peloponnese. He returned with freshly cut eggplants, zuchini and peppers from the garden and cheese from the local stores. I wanted to use some of that to create a heart-warming dish to thank him for all his kindness and love. I didn’t have mince nor potatoes, so I knew I couldn’t bake mousakas nor pastitsio (our greek traditional food). So, instead, I thought of combining some of the layers of that food by putting pasta along with eggplants, covering them in tomato sauce and topping all this with silky smooth and cheesy bechamel sauce, all in one lovely baking pan!  Brilliant, ha? It took me a while, 2 hours, but it was totally worth it!

dav

I’m writing this post, sipping club soda, trying to digest the 1 and 1/2, ok..2… pieces I ate! Oops! Read carefully and you will make it!

sdr

For the Tomato sauce:

dav

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 carton of tomato puree
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 garlic clove, mashed or chopped
  • 1/4 bunch of parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  1. In a pot, on low heat, pour the oil and add the onions. Let them cook for 10′, stirring occasionally, until they become transparent and a little caramelised.
  2. Add all the tomato products, the parsley, the galric, salt and pepper.
  3. Add 1/2 cup water and let it boil for 10′ or until the sauce is thick. Don’t forget to stir every now and then, because the onions can get stuck on the bottom and burnt.
  4. Set aside.

For the Eggplants:

dav

  • 4 medium size eggplants, washed and sliced
  • olive oil
  1. In a bowl of water and salt (2 tablespoons) put the eggplant slices and leave them for 30′ to loose their biterness- as we did in the other eggplant recipes . (While they sit in water, boil your spaghetti!)
  2. Remove the water and squeeze them to loose the excess water.
  3. Put a frying pan on medium heat and drizzle with just a little olive oil. Once it’s hot, cover the surface with eggplant slices and leave them for 3′ until they turn borwnish. Flip them and cook for 3′. Remove them, put them on a plate.
  4. Drizzle some more oil (the previous was absorbed byt he eggplants) and without waiting (the pan is already hot now) cover with some more slices. Cook for 3′ , again, and flip them. Cook for 3′. Remove them.
  5. Repeat the process all the slices are cookes. Set aside.

For the Spaghetti:

  • 1 packet of spaghetti (or any other pasta of similar shape)
  • olive oil
  1. Just boil them, the usual way, drain them and drizzle with a little olive oil. Stir them and set aside.

For the Bechamel sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons flour (I used whole wheat)
  • 1/2 litre milk of choice (I used almond milk)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoonS nutmeg (or 1, it’s up to your liking)
  • 100 gr grated cheese of choice, a little spicy or salty.
  1. Turn on heat to medium and in a pot, add the olive oil and butter. Let it warm until butter melts, for 1′.
  2. Add the flour and, using a whisk, stir swiftly and quickly until all of it is combined. Small balls might be formed and it’s ok.
  3. Turn the heat down to low.
  4. In small dosages, add the milk, pouring a little, stopping, whisking until combined and then pouring some more again. You NEED to keep whisking so that it doesn’t form small lumbs. It must be smooth and silky. So, the very first pouring must be of about 2-3  tablespoons and whisked really quickly. The second can be 4  tablespoons, and after the third pouring, you can add half of the amount left and then, the other half. DON’T STOP WHISKING! (sorry for the shouty capitals!!). Anyway, if there still are some lumbs, don’t worry, noone will notice!!! The whole process will take you 3 minutes, until you have a thick, but runny, mixture.
  5. At this point, just stir soflty, and add salt, pepper, nutmeg and cheese. Stir until combined and turn it off. (CONGRATULATIONS!!! I know it’s hard work!)

Now, let’s combine all those delicacies we made:

  • olive oil
  • 200 gr feta cheese, smashed with your hands
  • nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs (τριμμένη φρυγανιά)
  1. In a baking pan 35 * 25 cm (about 13*10 inches) drizzle a little olive oil and add half of the spaghetti.
  2. Cover them with eggplant slices and scatter half of the feta cheese pieces.

3. Using a tablespoon, pour half of the tomato sauce and spread it evenly with the back of the spoon.

IMG_20161013_130931.jpg

4. Add the rest of spaghetti, leaving a little for later.

5. Repeat steps 2 and 3, using the rest of eggplant slices, tomato sauce and feta cheese pieces.

6. Cover with the little remaining spaghetti and top with the Bechamel Sauce.

7. Sprinkle with a little nutmeg and bread crumbs.

8. Bake for 40′ at 220 C (430F) until the bechamel forms a lovely golden crust.

dav
Golden Crusty Paradise

9. Let it cool for 10′ and serve in HUGE pieces!!!!

Good job! Well done guys!

dav

dav
Need a fork?
mde
All the ingredients show!

All the moaning and purring from your beloved ones trying this food will pay you back for all your effort. I know it seems difficult, but, really, it’s not. It’s just a long process but you will not regret the mess in the kitchen!!! He can do the dishes now!

Love,

Evgenia ♥♥

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