For anyone growing up or having lived in Cyprus, this dish evokes a sense of nostalgia and homeliness – the traditional macaroni bake (aka. Makaroni tou Fournou in Cypriot and Pastitsio in Greece). Im on a roll with traditional greek-cypriot dishes so i thought i simply could not go on, without sharing this classic. Whenever i would come home to Cyprus from University, this was the first dinner mum used to make me and it stayed a tradition. And although i’ll probably say this several times, its definitly one of my favourite dishes of all time! In fact thats one of the reasons im sharing it – to show you that you absolutely need not give up some of your favourite dishes when going meatless / dairy-free – especially when it actually tastes exactly the same! My omnivoure cypriot father was the test – and it passed – he didnt know any different and even asked me what meat i used “beacuse its soft” 😮 ! Its a one-dish bake (which are totally my thing) and is great for when you want to feed more than two people.
If you dont want to use soy mince, then you can use the lentil mince depicted in this recipe, although i would recommend you use the soy, because the texture genuinely mimicks mince. Serving suggestion: Usually eaten warm (not too hot) or even cold (when its leftovers and its summer), with a side salad.
Try and buy soy mince that labelled GMO free, they’re usually no more expensive than other types. Soy mince is avaialble in all grocery stores and even in discount shops and i’ve even seen it in a kiosk – so no excuses! If you want more exact info as to where to find them, drop us a message.
Ingredients (makes 4-5 servings)
- 350gr Mezzanelli Pasta (see pic and note below*) / 350γρ μακαρόνια Μετζανέλι
- 75gr soy mince / 75γρ κιμάς σόγιας
- 270ml warm water / 270ml ζεστό νερό
- 1 onion / 1 κρεμμύδι
- 2 garlic cloves minced / 2 σκελίδες σκόρδο λιωμένες
- 2tbsp olive oil / 2κ.σ. ελαιόλαδο
- 2tsp dried mint / 2κ.γ. αποξηραμένος δυόσμος
- 1.5tsp cinnamon / 1.5κ.γ. κανέλα
- Salt & Pepper / Αλάτι & Πιπέρι
- 1tsp molasses / 1κ.γ. μελάσα μαύρη (ή συρόπι χαρουπιού)
- 3tbsp quality tomato paste / 3κ.γ. ποιοτικής πάστα τομάτας
- 300gr tinned chopped tomatoes / 300γρ ψιλοκομμένες ντομάτες κονσέρβας
- 150ml vegetable stock liquid / 150ml ζωμός λαχανικών
- 2tbsp fresh parsley, chopped / 2κ.σ. φρέσκο μαιντανό κομμένο
Bechamel / White sauce:
- 12tbsp dairy-free butter / 12κσ. βούτυρο νηστίσιμο
- 11tbsp flour / 11κσ. αλεύρι άσπρο
- 900ml unsweetened almond or soy milk (room temperature or warm) / 900ml γάλα αμυγδάλου χωρίς ζάχαρη ή γάλα σόγιας (ζεστό ή θερμοκρασίας δωματίου)
- 1tsp pepper and 1tsp salt / (1κγ. πιπέρι και 1kγ. αλάτι)
- Pinch of nutmeg (optional) / μία πρέζα μοσχοκάρυδο (προαιρετικό)
Directions (total time: 70minutes)
1. Rehydrate your mince: soak your mince in the 270ml warm water. Allow to sit for 10 minutes and then drain as thoroughly as u can by pressing into the mince over a colander. Set aside
2. While waiting for your mince to rehydrate, make bechamel: set aside
3. Pre Heat oven to 200 degrees
4. Make your main sauce: fry onion for 2-3 minutes. Add in minced garlic. Fry for a few minutes more. Add in cinnamon, dried mint salt and pepper and keep stirring to release fragrance. After about 2 mins add tomato paste and stir so that spices are coated. Then add chopped tomatoes, molasses and veg stock. Bring to the boil and once it does, reduce to a low simmer and cover with a lid for 5 minutes at least. Then, Uncover and keep on a low simmer for about 10 minutes
5. At this point boil pasta in salted water according to pack instructions and when done, drain *
6. The liquid in your sauce should be reduced to half by now. Now add soy mince, fresh parsley and stir. Allow this to simmer for 5 minutes more and turn off heat allowing to cool
7. Start layering! Butter (or oil) the bottom and sides of a relatively large oven pan. Layer half your pasta. Put about 5tbsp of bechamel on pasta – kind of dop it on, don’t spread it. Then add all your meat sauce, spread evenly. Next layer is the remaining pasta. Last layer, is the remaining bechamel which you spread evenly. Sprinkle the grated cheese /vegan parmesan, on top and a little bit of cinnamon.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Blast under a hot grill for 5 minutes to get the crispy pasta edges mmmmm.
*Do not break your pasta before cooking – having them whole is what makes the dish. When boiling them, for the first 2-3 minutes you’ll have to stand over them and kind of push them down with a big spoon as they get softer so that they all fit in the pan. Dont panic when you first throw them in and they dont fit. You will find that you will come up with ingenius ways to make them fit whole and cook evenly!