Greek Macaroni & Cheese

IMG_7079Toronto is experiencing one the coolest summers and definitely a wet one with a couple of rainfalls a day. The thermometer has breached 30 Celsius a mere three times.

Toronto has also seen some labour unrest with some summer strikes (major one being a strike by the city’s garbage collectors). Me thinks summer is on strike too!

Last week, I almost made a hot soup. This cooler weather begs for warm comfort food but I resisted. I’m the type of person who enjoys salads in the summer and soups in the cooler months (cold soups being the exception).

The comfort dish I chose was a baked macaroni & cheese. In Greece, “makaronia” is the term used to describe any time of pasta. I’m about to leave for Greece and recipes are being created and manipulated to clean-out fridge and freezer items begging to be consumed.IMG_7081

I remembered that I had some leftover spinach pasta that was made for making a Lasagna of Emilia-Romagna (recipe to be posted at a later date) and I had pondered how else to use the leftovers. The spinach pasta was in the form of lasagna sheets. I tore them up into smaller pieces, resembling broad noodles. In Greece, Hilopites are a pasta made of flour, eggs and milk and when torn-up like this, they are called “patsavoures” or…rags.

The answer was a baked macaroni & cheese, a la Greque of course! Spinach and Feta go very well together, a Bechamel is used (also utilized in Greek cooking), I love pasta (Greeks adore their pasta) and a combination of Feta and Graviera (Gruyere works) fine help bring this dish together.

There are no herbs here but the Bechamel gets a boost from some grated onion, garlic and freshly grated nutmeg and black pepper.IMG_7088

The dish is finished off with a George Calombaris-inspired Feta crumble, as introduced by my friend Tim at the Second Pancake. I combined melted butter, homemade coarse breadcrumbs and Feta cheese.

Try and find a spinach pasta. As I stated before…spinach and Feta are classic Greek combo and it’s the little extras that matter in a dish. If you can’t find such pasta, toss some baby spinach along with the pasta and Bechamel/cheese mixture.

May I take your order? These would easily sell in any restaurant or diner. Try them…you’ll see!IMG_7074

Greek Macaroni & Cheese

(serves 4)

Approx 500 gr. of Spinach pasta (or pasta of your choice)

(2 cups of baby spinach if you cannot find such pasta)

1 cup of grated Graviera cheese (or Gruyere)

1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese

2 Tbsp. of unsalted butter

2 Tbsp. of flour

1 small onion, passed through a box grater

2 cloves of garlic, smashed

1 can of evaporated milk

1 tsp. of fresh grated nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

Feta Crumble

1 slab (1/2 cup) of Feta cheese, crumbled

2 Tbsp. of unsalted melted butter

1/2 cup of coarse bread crumbs

1 8X11″ greased baking dish or 4 individual serving vessels

Pre-heated 350F oven

  1. Grease your baking vessel(s) with butter and set aside. You may also pre-heat your oven (middle rack). Have your Mise en place ready like grating and crumbling your cheeses, make the Feta crumble by melting some butter and using a spoon, mix the crumbled Feta (1/2 cup), coarse bread crumbs. Set aside.
  2. Place a large pot of water on the stove-top and bring to a boil.
  3. In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, add your butter, grated onion and smashed garlic and saute while stirring with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes. Now add the flour and keep stirring for about 3 minutes to cook out the rawness from the flour.
  4. Now with a whisk, add a steady stream of the can of evaporated milk. Bring to a gradual boil over medium-high heat while stirring. Continue to whisk until the mixture has smoothed (any lumps will melt away). One the sauce has thickened, you may add your grated Graviera (Gruyere) cheese.
  5. Keep the pot on the stove-top but turn the heat off while adding the grated cheese. Your sauce should be thick. Add the grated nutmeg and season with salt and pepper, according to taste. Take off the heat and add the crumbled Feta into the sauce. Set aside and keep warm.
  6. Strain your pasta and toss in some olive oil (to prevent from sticking). Place in a bowl and add your Bechamel/cheese sauce and gently toss to coat. Spoon into your baking vessel(s) and sprinkle the Feta Crumble on top.IMG_7072
  7. Bake in your pre-heated  oven for approx. 30-40 minutes or until the top has become golden/brown. Allow to cool for 5- minutes. Serve  hot.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at  http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.

© 2007-2009 Peter Minakis

© 2009,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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51 Comments for “Greek Macaroni & Cheese”

says:

Peter, you’ve outdone yourself with this dish. I don’t eat pasta very often, but I must try this. The feta is especially tempting in this dish!

says:

I don’t know what appeals to me more…that header or the mac – n – cheese!!! I love the feta in the M&C…it makes it nice and salty!!!

heebeejeebee

says:

this looks yummy – perfect for cooler weather (do enjoy it while you can – greece is hot at the moment)

says:

Mmm yum – yes, I’d buy this in a restaurant – Great recipe Peter!

Ps: Summer is def on strike over here in the UK lol – we had four days of HOT a couple of weeks ago. And I mean hot (for the UK anyway hitting 32) but that’s it now nothing but rain since :(

Yundah

says:

Mac and cheese in any language is my favorite. It’s been a cool summer across the bridge here in Michigan too so I imagine I’ll soon have a chance to try this out. Thanks, and have fun in Greece.

says:

It really have been so cool and rainy this summer in Cleveland too. I can’t say I even feel like we are 1/3 the way through the season.

On another note, this is one of my favorite recipes that you have posted recently. It just really draws me.

says:

Can I have two please? This looks so good I immediately copied the recipe and will sure be making this maybe this week already. I love any pasta, I love feta and well, basically everything else in this dish as well! Gorgeous!

says:

Sorry to hear about your cooler summer…just think, in a few days you’ll be basking under that hot Mediterranean sun! This is a wonderful take on the “usual” macaroni and cheese Peter.

Luana

says:

Love the idea of the breadcrumb-feta topping, and of course, spinach and feta is always a great combination! I look forward to trying this when the weather cools down here.

says:

Peter, this looks seriously heavenly. Total comfort food. I love the minimal amt of butter and using the evap milk for some creaminess but not as much saturated fat. I’ll have to give this a try!

says:

If I show these pics to my two teenage sons they’ll want me to make this right now but we are experiencing one of the warmest summer we ever had on Vancouver Island. So the rule is not to touch the stove. My daughter is in Ottawa and has been complaining about the weather for a long time now. Hope it changes when I go visit in September.

says:

Brillo comfort food. Have all the ingredients to make my own version.

I’ve often mixed fresh breadcrumbs, a wee splosh of olive oil and a grated hard cheese (usually pecorino). Adding a sheep or goats milk feta is a lovely alternative.

I’m so enjoying your blog. I hope you have a super wonderful time in Greece. Relax and enjoy it all, though I think don’t think you’ll need much encouragement,

care and huggles, Michelle in Wellington

says:

peter, leave it to you to make an already phenomenally-comforting dish even better. LOVE the use of spinach pasta—how original! LOVE the crumble—the perfect crunch contrast. LOVE the use of evaporated milk—such an underused ingredient!

says:

A delicious twist on this favourite comfort food Peter. I will gladly send you some hot 37C weather Peter…it is getting very tiresome since I can’t spend my days on the beach or at my favourite winery.

says:

This looks so wonderful!!! I can’t wait until it’s cool enough to try it here. I love anything with feta in it and this sounds so rich and creamy!

says:

Don’t you just absolutely love the weather lately?! I just live north of you in Barrie and I must say I am also counting the nice days. Not many. I actually broke down and made soup one night last week it was so cold. I went out in the evening a week ago and had to throw on a jacket. Hopefully the nice weather comes to us soon enough, but don’t hold your breath. Greek Macaroni and Cheese is now tomorrow night’s dinner!

Christine

says:

My goodness that looks delicious Peter! Fabulous actually. I will certainly try it with the spinach pasta as you recommend, but the baby spinach addition intrigues me too!

says:

I am SUCH a sucker for any kind of mac and cheese, but this looks so above and beyond. Your brown butter and pasta recipe is still a favorite around here. I’m scared to try this one.

katie

says:

efhadisto, peter! this is cooking away in my oven as i type. one question though- above in the directions, it says to add flour to the onion and butter mix to take away the rawness.. i assumed you meant the baby spinach??
thanks and keep em coming!

katie

says:

this dish came out amazing! we are currently experiencing monsoon weather here in astoria so it really hit the spot :)

says:

Macaroni cheese is an all-time favourite with me, Peter. This looks seriously good and I’m really craving a dish of it right now. Like the idea of flavouring the bechamel with garlic and onion… We’re having a rubbish summer here too, so this would be just the thing for a cool day!

says:

Fantastic recipe. The feta crumbles on top are brilliant! Good use of leftovers to me. Have a wonderful trip, I bet you have started the countdown!

says:

You can feed me mac & cheese anytime, Peter — total comfort food!

We’re stuck in the same weather pattern as Toronto right now — although without the rain. I’m enjoying the cooler temps, though I know there are plenty of others wondering where the 85º weather is!!

says:

I am a huge fan of feta. This mac & cheese looks so very good. I know what I will make on the first cool day! We are having a small heatwave here in New Jersey… Thanks!

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