Makaronopita With Eggplant (Μακαρονόπιτα με μελιτζανες)

May 19th, 2010 | By | Category: Baking, Cheese, Featured, Greek, Greek Wine, Herbs, Main, Sauce, Spices

It’s time for another pasta dish. Although I’ve cut down on the amount of pasta I eat, I still do love it and I have pasta at least once a week (maybe twice a week). Greeks enjoy pasta, the Spaniards, the French, Arabs, Turks and of course, Asians. Pasta also has a special place in Italian cuisine, we all know that. However, it would be silly to label every single pasta dish as being routed in Italian cuisine.

We all love our pasta, embrace it – love it and be happy that this staple is enjoyed by so many people. Pasta Diplomacy? Anyhow, allow me to introduce you to a Makaronopita: a baked pasta dish. There are many versions of baked pasta dishes, both Greek and non-Greek and usually a baked pasta recipe is made from leftover pasta. Remember, Greek cuisine is frugal and little goes to waste.

What makes this baked pasta recipe different is that it’s wrapped in slices of eggplant. What we’re doing here is making one big timbale: a tomato and meat sauce tossed in a hollow Greek pasta and some Bechamel for binding, grated cheese. The eggplant slices are the shell, wrapping this pasta parcel and holding everything together. Throw in the oven, allow to cool, unmold, slice and serve!

This dish is definitely eye candy and presentation piece for a dinner or a wonderful idea for a buffet. You could serve this on the same day that it’s made but these types of dishes always taste better the next day. I served the Makaronopita with a basic tomato sauce made of onion, garlic and some dried Greek oregano at the end. Like basil, tear some leaves off your plant in the herb garden and throw them in the sauce.

To make a Makaronopita, you’re going to need a mold: a bread loaf pan is what I used. You may go for a rectangular shape or try the round shape like mine. As for the eggplant, you may grill the slices of eggplant or bake them in the oven. Your goal is to simply soften them. They will continue to bake in the oven.

Some Makaronopitas include eggs as a binder (which) is fine but I opted for a Bechamel (sans eggs) to act as the glue to this pie and to retain some moisture the next day. This dish involves making a meat sauce, a tomato sauce, boiling some pasta, making some Bechamel and baking or grilling some eggplant slices.

A little involved? Yes, but it’s still easy, multi-taskers in the kitchen will pull off this dish quickly and you’ll get a smile when your guests smile when you present this to them at the dinner table. This recipe makes two small Makaranopitas, the mold being 6 inches in diameter (I like the small mould as it suits the length of your usual eggplant.

Makaronopita (Μακαρονόπιτα)

2 eggplants, sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices

olive oil for brushing

sea salt

1 cup grated Graviera cheese (or a firm Gruyere)

500 gr. package of Misko #5 pasta (or bucantini, hollow pasta)

Approx. 1/2 cup fine breadcrumbs

Bechamel Sauce

2 Tbsp. of unsalted butter

2 Heaping Tbsp. of all-purpose flour

2 cups of warm milk

salt and pepper to taste

Meat Sauce

1lb (1/2 kg) of lean ground beef

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, diced

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

2-3 bay leaves

1/2 carrot, grated (optional, I use a carrot instead of sugar if my tomatoes are too acidic)

1 796 can of plum tomatoes, hand-crushed

1/3 cup dry white wine

salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

2 tsp. of dried Greek oregano

pinch of ground cinnamon

Pre-heated 375F oven

  1. Pre-heat your oven. Wash your eggplants, cut off the stems and cut into 1/4 inch slices lengthwise. Brush both sides with olive oil, season lightly with salt. Place on a lightly greased baking pan and place in your pre-heated oven (rack third position from the top) and back for 6 minutes a side. Carefully remove from the tray and allow to cool on a paper-towel lined platter. Bake in batches (you may also grill your eggplant slices)
  2. In the meantime, place a skillet on your stove-top over medium heat and add your olive oil, garlic, grated carrot and bay leaves and saute for 4-7 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Add the ground beef, turn the heat up to high and stir constantly until the meat is browned. Add your wine and reduce the heat back to medium and reduce for 3-4 minutes. Now add the tomato sauce, bring back to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper and simmer until you have a thick sauce. Take off the heat, remove the bay leaves, add the dried Greek oregano and a pinch of ground cinnamon. Adjust seasoning and reserve.
  3. Place a large pot of water on your stove-top and bring to a boil. Add a good amount of salt when the water boils, add your pasta and cook for about 8 minutes. Strain, toss in a little olive oil and reserve.
  4. In the meantime, place a medium pot on your stove-top over medium heat and add the butter. As soon as it melts, add the flour and stir for a minute with a wooden spoon. Now add the warm milk in 1/2 cup batches, stirring all along the way. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens to a creamy. Adjust seasoning with some salt and pepper and set aside (covered).
  5. Pre-heat your oven to 375F. To assemble your Makaronopitas, wipe the inside of your round molds with some olive oil and a light coating of breadcrumbs. Now line the inside of your moulds with the eggplant slices (tapered part of the eggplant in the mould and the widest end overhanging on the outside).
  6. In a large bowl, add the cooked pasta, Bechamel sauce, grated cheese and meat sauce and gently toss until well incorporated. Divide and fill the two moulds with the pasta mixture.
  7. Now flip the overhanging part of your eggplant slices over and towards the middle of your Makaronopitas in order to wrap the filling completely. Place in your pre-heated oven (middle rack for about 30-40 minutes or until the top is just golden. Allow to rest for at least another 30 minutes before unmolding.
  8. Place your serving platter on top of each Makaronopita and then quickly flip. Give the pies a couple of good shakes to release them from the molds.
  9. Place a ladle of Marinara sauce on each plate, place a wedge of Makaronopita on top and sprinkle some grated cheese on top.
  10. Serve with a an Alpha Estate red.

Note: You may make your own Marinara (tomato sauce) or try this one. Finish with fresh basil or dried Greek oregano.

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.

© 2007-2010 Peter Minakis

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36 Comments to “Makaronopita With Eggplant (Μακαρονόπιτα με μελιτζανες)”

  1. Anna says:

    What a bada$$ slice of pie! Send a slice to Cali!

  2. Jan says:

    Now you’ve made me not want the steak I’m about to cook – I want that instead!!!
    Looks really tasty and delish :)

  3. Makaronopitta! Never heard of this dish, what a lovely surprise! Will recreate with prawns and aubergine!

  4. gasteroplix says:

    στη μελιτζάνα λέμε ΝΑΙ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! αγαπημένη του καλοκαιριού την απολαμβάνουμε καθημερινά, με τα μακαρόνια είναι κόλαση

  5. Dragon says:

    The third photo is my favourite. It looks like a deliciously wrapped present. :)

  6. Rosa says:

    That dish is beautiful! I bet it tastes awesome!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  7. Linda says:

    This is gorgeous! Really lovely!

  8. Eleni says:

    Όνειρο θα το μαγειρέψω στα σίγουρα…

  9. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kalofagas Greek Food. Kalofagas Greek Food said: http://bit.ly/bf8tZI new blog post.: Makaronopita with Eggplant. As always…enjoy! […]

  10. federica says:

    wow che splendida preparazione!! chissà che buona!!!

  11. The melding of flavours here Peter with the Greek cheese and the eggplant has me wanting to traipse over to the grocers.

  12. Karen says:

    What a beautiful dish. I don’t think mine would last more than one day. It looks so good!

  13. Lori Lynn says:

    Wow! I have never seen anything like this. Fantastic Peter! I bet it tastes even better than it looks.
    LL

  14. grace says:

    this is a terribly impressive dish, peter! like everyone else, i love the look of the bisected noodles. plus, you know, it’d taste phenomenal, so there’s that. :)

  15. Wow what a spectacular dish – much like our timabalo. This would be a surefire way to anyone’s heart (and stomach)

  16. I still haven’t gotten over my fear of attempting pastitsio — and now you’re tempting me with this wonderful dish! It looks absolutely divine.

  17. nina says:

    Stunning Peter, although this makes a perfect center piece on the table, I will gladly whip this baby out oa a picnic basket too!

  18. noobcook says:

    omg amazing! I am not much of a sweets person so this savoury “cake” is definitely calling out to me. This is BRILLIANT :)

  19. Cherine says:

    What a gorgeous dish!! Sounds DELICIOUS!!

  20. Jamie says:

    Wow! This is a fabulous cross between eggplant parmesan (sans le Parmesan), lasagna, moussaka, right? It is stunningly beautiful too. This is a dish i must try. It looks fairly easy yet so flavorful and delicious. Perfect!

  21. Foodycat says:

    This looks lovely! I’ve seen something similar in Sicilian cookbooks ;) but I’ve never tried it!

  22. Wow! I love the presentation of this dish with the eggplant wrapped around it. I agree. This would def make a great inclusion to a casual buffet lunch.

  23. Good one Peter! I love this sort of pasta bake. Delicious.

  24. OMG This looks unbelievably delicious. I wish I could try one large slice of it.

  25. ειρήνη says:

    wait for me , i will come for dinner!

  26. Nadji says:

    Un plat qui semble absolument délicieux.
    J’aime beaucoup. Je note ta recette.
    A bientôt.

  27. Beau says:

    Frugal and fun. Looks great!

    Not a lot of folks grow eggplant around here, but I _am_ seeing a new use for those large zucchinis that we’ll have too many of quite soon.

  28. Joan Nova says:

    I love the way you casually say ‘tossed’ when referring to the filling. I’m always amazed at the precision of layering in Greek pasta dishes. I always pictured they were laid side by side from top to bottom with great care. I love this idea and will definitely being trying it one day.

  29. kat says:

    The presentation is truly stunning

  30. Jen says:

    I am in love with this dish! Eggplant, pasta, bechamel, and meat sauce – oh my! The presentation is just beautiful.

  31. Maria says:

    That is a beautiful makaronopita Peter! I love how the eggplant is wrapped around the pie … it is indeed a beautiful presentation and a tasty dish at that!

  32. Ξανθή says:

    Peter πολύ μου άρεσε το πιάτο σου, θα περιμένω τις καλοκαιρινές μελιτζάνες να το δοκιμάσω!!!

  33. This looks amazing. Everything I’ve ever made suddenly looks boring in comparison!

  34. Foodjunkie says:

    This looks like a Timballo. Eggplants are so sweet this time of season,as they have no seeds.

  35. Kate says:

    After seeing this my life feels complete! <3

  36. Now that is a nice looking pasta dish! I like the way the eggplant is used to wrap it all up!

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