What gives this Greek Ziti a Mediterranean twist? That’s a good question, because at first glance, the bouncy ziti noodles smothered in melty cheese and tomato sauce appear to be an Italian dish. But the secret is in the spices! There’s a little dash of rich cinnamon and a spritz of citrusy lemon juice to shake things up a bit… and it really does make a difference! So, if you’re feeling like branching out a smidge, Greek Ziti is the fun and filling way to do it!

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Ingredients

  • 12 ounces ziti pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (8-ounce) package mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 cup fine and dry breadcrumbs
  • fresh basil, optional, to taste, for garnish
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Directions

Step 1 –Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Step 2 –Lightly coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Step 3 –In a Dutch oven with salted boiling water, cook the pasta to al dente, according to the package directions.

Step 4 –Drain the pasta and return it to the Dutch oven.

Step 5 –While the pasta is cooking, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil and the onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.

Step 6 –Add the garlic to the onion and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Also Read:  Linda's Five-Cheese Pasta

Step 7 –Add the beef to the onion mixture and cook, while crumbling the meat, until the meat is no longer pink.

Step 8 –Drain the excess grease from the skillet.

Step 9 –Stir the tomato sauce, the lemon juice, the oregano, the sugar, the cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon of the salt into the beef mixture and bring to a simmer.

Step 10 –Cook the beef mixture, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes.

Step 11 –Transfer the beef mixture from the heat.

Step 12 –In a large saucepan over low heat, melt the butter.

Step 13 –Whisk the flour into the butter and cook, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes.

Step 14 –Gradually whisk the milk into the flour mixture.

Step 15 –Increase the heat to medium and cook the sauce mixture, whisking constantly, until it thickens and is bubbly, about 5-7 minutes.

Step 16 –Stir the parmesan cheese, the pepper, and the remaining salt into the sauce mixture.

Step 17 –Add the cheese sauce to the pasta and stir to coat.

Step 18 –Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish then top with the beef mixture, the mozzarella cheese, and the breadcrumbs.

Step 19 –Bake the ziti until it is bubbly and the cheese has melted, about 20-25 minutes.

Step 20 –Let the ziti stand for 10 minutes.

Step 21 –Serve the baked ziti garnished with the basil.