|MashAllah, my little angels Kayan and Dalia (yes, mini-me!)|
My sister and her family just moved from Madrid to Dubai and I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am! Joujou, is like my other half, has always been my closest friend and living apart for all these years has really not been easy. Especially that I miss my four little nephews tremendously! I have no experience in being a mami yet, but I have the experience of Being Auntie D, and my little angels have brought so much joy to my life :)
So now that they live here, they come over for lunch and I get to cook for a few more little persons- which I absolutely love! I'm also experimenting with dishes that are more "kid friendly" if that makes any sense.. Spontaneously Joujou called saying they would pop over for lunch, and I had 1 hour to prepare lunch as the kids were starving.. I looked through my pantry and fridge, found rigatoni, cheese, carrots, peas, minced meat and so I opted for a Baked Rigatoni which the little angels absolutely adored! Super easy, and delish for kids and grown ups as well!
(I usually use low fat milk and little less butter for my béchamel sauce which you can see in other gratin recipes, but for the kids I went all out ;)
Easy. Prep & Cook Time: ~1 hour
Serves 6 - 8
- 750g rigatoni pasta
- 350g minced beef (lean)
- 350g minced lamb
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 carrots, cut in rounds
- 1 pack of frozen peas
- 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
- 2 cups Ementhal cheese, grated
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- salt and cracked pepper to taste
for the béchamel sauce
- 1 liter milk
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tbsp flour
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
- freshly grated nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven at 180C. In a pan, heat olive oil and sauté the onions until translucent. Add the garlic, cook for a minute or so, then add the minced meat, lamb, thyme and bay leaves. Cook until the minced meat turns golden and looks cooked through, then add the carrots and peas. Continue cooking everything on medium heat, then add the chopped tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper and simmer for about 10 minutes.
In the mean time, cook the pasta in boiling salt water but not until it's done, just half the amount it says on the pack (about 6 minutes), so basically pre cook the rigatoni as they will cook more in the oven later and you do not want them to be too gooey!
In a saucepan, melt the butter and olive oil, add the flour and cook it through, until it turns golden brown. Add the milk and simmer until it thickens, then season with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. When the béchamel has the consistency of a thick sauce, add the cheddar cheese and set aside.
Add the meat mixture to the pasta, mix everything well (don't forget to season to taste) and start assembling your bake in the dish. Pour the pasta and meat in the dish, and top with the béchamel sauce. Finish off with the grated cheese and place in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes or until golden. Enjoy with a simple green salad. Yummy comfort food!