Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 1h30 minutes
Don’t be misled by the ‘simple’ name, this is anything but a simple dish.
The Ingredients: for 4 persons
- 500 g minced meat (half beef, half pork)
- 6 tomatoes (at least 500 g)
- 1 onion
- 2,5 tbsp. butter or margarine
- 4 tbsp. flower
- fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ l milk (whole or semi-skimmed)
- 75 g grated cheese (Emmentaler)
- 250 g pasta (fusilli)
- salt & pepper
Cook the pasta al dente in lightly salted water. Follow the timing instructions on the package. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water to avoid that the pasta sticks.
Cut the onions into small blocks. Peal the tomatoes and remove the seeds. Cut the tomatoes in large portions.
Preheat the oven at 225°C.
Melt the butter in a pot, don’t let it brown, and mix with the flower. Add a third of the milk and bring this to a cooking point while stirring slowly. At the cooking point, add extra milk to get the correct sauce density. Turn down the heat a bit. Add the thyme and the bay leaf and cook the sauce gently for about 15 minutes. Keep your eye on the ballgame. Sauce on a milk base easily sticks to the pan or overflows, so don’t stop stirring, don’t leave.
Sieve the sauce and mix the grated cheese with the sauce.
Take an oven dish and put in a layer of pasta. Distribute the onion, the tomato and the minced meat on top. Season with salt and pepper. If the dish is not full yet, add the rest of the pasta and cover it with sauce. In case you have some leftover grated cheese you can sprinkle that on top.
There are many different pasta kinds you can use for this: fusilli, spirelli, farfalle, penne, macaroni,…
We often replace the fresh tomatoes by canned tomatoes to save time and it has little effect on the end result.
All together this dish takes quite a while to cook. You wonder if it is really necessary to stir in that sauce for 15 long minutes. Believe me, it is exactly that herb-flavoured cheese sauce which lifts this dish from being ordinary to being incredibly fantastic.
If you do make the effort of cooking this on your busy week day, bear in mind that you can easily prepare some extra dishes and put them uncooked in the freezer for later use.
I will confess that this recipe comes from a very old actually our very first cook book which came for free with our very first micro wave after we just got married. Because this is a recipe I never came across ever again I felt I should make an exception to my rule not to blog recipes from other cooks. Just to make sure it gets some extra exposure. I can’t leave it to disintegrate with the book.