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Recipe for baked pasta with béchamel and meat sauce

(Karoline Boehm Goodnick for The Boston Globe)

Serves 8

MEAT SAUCE

3tablespoons olive oil
1medium onion, finely chopped
1carrot, finely chopped
1clove garlic, finely chopped
1pound mixture of ground beef, pork, and veal
1can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
2small sprigs fresh rosemary, stems removed and leaves finely chopped (about ½ tablespoon)
3leaves fresh sage, finely chopped (about ½ tablespoon)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sprig of fresh basil

1. In a medium Dutch oven, using medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add onion and carrot and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

2. Crumble in the beef, pork, and veal. Using a wooden spoon, break meat into small pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in the tomatoes, rosemary, sage, salt, and pepper. Increase heat until tomatoes bubble, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently, partially covered, for 1 hour. Remove from heat, stir in the basil, and set aside.

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BÉCHAMEL SAUCE

4tablespoons (½ stick) butter
¼cup flour
cups whole milk, warmed
¼teaspoon salt
Pinch ground nutmeg

1. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add flour and whisk constantly for about 2 minutes.

2. While continuing to whisk, drizzle in the milk. Whisk in the salt and nutmeg and increase heat to medium. When steam begins to rise, whisk constantly until sauce has the consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and place plastic wrap directly onto surface of sauce. Set aside.

PASTA

½pound (8 ounces) fresh or dried spinach tagliatelle, fettuccine, or other flat pasta
Olive oil (for tossing)
Butter (for the dish)
½cup (2 ounces) plus 4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is supple but firm to the bite — about 1 to 3 minutes for fresh pasta or 7 minutes for dried. Pour pasta into a colander, drain, toss with olive oil, and set aside.

2. Butter a 9-by-13-inch ovenproof baking dish. Smear a thin layer of the meat sauce over the bottom of the dish. Cover with half of the drained pasta. Spoon half of the meat sauce over the pasta and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Smooth ½ cup of béchamel sauce over the meat and cheese. Add the remainder of the pasta and meat sauce and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of Parmesan. Top with the remainder of the béchamel sauce and grated cheese.

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3. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbly (finish under the broiler if necessary). Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.


Elizabeth Mindreau can be reached at ermindreau@gmail.com.