Recipe courtesy of George Boretos and Themis Boretos


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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 45 min
  • Prep: 30 min
  • Cook: 1 hr 15 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic

Freshly ground black pepper

2 bay leaves

2 cinnamon sticks

3 to 4 whole cloves

2 pounds ground beef (80/20)


1/2 cup peeled and chopped fresh tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato puree

1 tablespoon margarine, melted

1 pound ziti, cooked

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for topping

Bechamel Sauce, recipe follows

Bechamel Sauce:

1 quart milk

1 cup (2 sticks) margarine

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Freshly ground nutmeg


  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil, onion, garlic, black pepper, to taste, the bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, and cloves and saute for a few minutes. Add the ground beef, stirring continuously, until all the meat is cooked and browned. Stir in salt, to taste, fresh tomato and tomato puree. Let simmer for about 20 minutes, then remove the bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and the whole cloves. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. 
  3. Brush a large casserole dish generously with melted margarine. Add the cooked ziti, beaten egg, cheese and the meat mixture. Mix until well combined. Top with Bechamel Sauce and sprinkle with more grated Parmigiano. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from the oven and serve.

Bechamel Sauce:

  1. Heat the milk in medium saucepan over low heat. In separate medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the margarine, then add the flour and mix well. Stir in the heated milk, beaten eggs, cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg, to taste. Whisk until thickened. Keep warm until ready to use.