Today's recipe is adapted from a recipe I received from a co-worker. The group that I work with is very diverse and my boss had the idea to have an "International Dinner" where everyone brought a dish that reflected their ethnic background. My co-worker, who is from Egypt, brought a popular dish called macarona bashamel. It was absolutely delicious, so I asked her for the recipe. She had to give it to me in person, because it's one of those "a scoop of this" and "about this much" of that. (Love it!) I nearly had a heart attack when I heard how much shortening she used, so here is my inauthentic, healthier version. However, after a quick online search, I didn't find any other recipes that used shortening so maybe my version isn't all that inauthentic! :)
Inauthentic Macarona Bashamel
6 oz whole wheat penne pasta
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 lb ground buffalo (or lean ground beef)
1/2 of a small onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons tomato paste (no salt added)
about 2 cups of water
1 Tablespoon light butter
1 Tablespoon whole wheat flour (or all purpose flour)
16 oz skim milk
1 Tablespoon reduced fat dry grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper
1. Turn oven to 375 degrees (F).
2. Bring a couple cups of water to boil in a saucepan on the stove. Add pasta to water. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 Tablespoon olive oil, if desired. Cook according to package directions. I found a great multigrain pasta by Bella Terra that has a lot of fiber and added flaxseed. It takes about 9 minutes to cook.
3. While that is boiling, place buffalo in a large skillet and cook until no longer pink. Drain (rinse and drain, if desired.) Add the chopped onion, tomato paste, cinnamon, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and enough water to cover the meat (about 2 cups for me). Turn up the heat and let this boil until the water is gone. (This will take awhile - maybe 15 or 20 minutes.)
4. When the pasta is done, place in a colander in the sink and just leave it there for now. Rinse out the pan a bit and start the sauce in it by placing the butter over medium-low heat. When it has melted, add the flour and mix together with a fork to form a paste. It may seem like there's too much flour, but it will mix! Let the flour cook with the butter for 30 seconds or so, then add the milk. Whisk this very well to break up all of the flour paste.
5. Continue to cook the meat and sauce simultaneously, keeping an eye on both. Meanwhile, crack an egg into a small bowl and beat slightly with a fork.
6. When the water is gone from the meat pan, turn off the heat, add the pasta to the pan and mix it in. Leave this until the sauce is done.
7. When the milk begins to bubble, take 1/4 cup or so and mix it into the bowl with the egg. Then, pour the egg mixture into the pan. Add the nutmeg. Let this cook for about a minute or so, whisking the entire time. Remove from heat.
8. In a 2 and a half quart baking dish, place a couple spoonfuls of the sauce (just to grease the bottom of the dish). Next, pour in the meat/pasta mixture. Then, pour the remaining sauce over the top. Finally, sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese.
9. Bake for about 30 minutes.
Assuming 4 servings, with my particular ingredients, each serving has approximately: