Sephardic Spaghetti and Cheese Bake

Unlike last week’s time consuming recipe, the following recipe requires very little effort or ingredients.
The original bake, which is known in the Sephardic cuisine as “Makarron reynado”, is a simple mix of cooked spaghetti, Feta cheese, eggs and milk, baked until set and golden.
While many other baked pasta dishes use thick Béchamel sauce in the mixture, this bake is much lighter, and has a fresh tangy flavor, from the Feta cheese.
The baked dish is then cut into squares, and served hot, or at room temperature, as part of a weekend brunch buffet, as a light lunch, with fresh salad on the side, or as a side dish.
Though I most often prefer the basic recipe, different additions and flavors can be added to it, as you can see from the following suggestions. Try them, or create your own version, and enjoy.

Notes:
* Bulgarian Feta cheese has tangier flavor and creamier texture, than the Greek Feta. It is the preferred cheese for this bake, but if you can’t find it, any other Feta cheese will do.
* If you can find it, Quark cheese (see THIS post for explanation), can be used instead of the sour cream or yogurt.

Makes: 8-10
Prep time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:
1 package thin spaghetti (1 Lb, 454 grams)
2 Tbs butter, soft
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
3 XL eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream, or thick full fat yogurt (see notes)
2 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup crumbled sheep Feta cheese (preferably Bulgarian, see notes)
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 390F (200C). Line a 12”x8” (20.5 cm x 30 cm) baking pan with baking paper.
2. Cook the spaghetti al-dente, according to the directions on the box. Drain and place in a large bowl.
3. While the pasta is still warm, add the butter and milk, and mix well, to melt the butter. Add the eggs, sour cream or yogurt, salt and pepper, and mix again. Add the Feta cheese, and mix gently, to keep fairly large chunks of it in the mixture.

4. Transfer the mixture into the prepared pan. Flatten the top with a spatula and drizzle a bit of olive oil on top. Cover the pan with baking paper and aluminum foil.
5. Bake for about 50 minutes, removing the cover after 30 minutes, until the bake is set and golden.

Variations:
Roasted red peppers:
To the basic mixture, add ½ cup chopped roasted red peppers (click HERE for instructions on how to prepare at home, or use drained from a jar) and 1 Tbs crumbled fresh thyme.

Sun dried tomatoes and olives:
To the basic mixture, add 1/3 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes, 10 salt cured chopped pitted black olives, and 1 Tbs crumbled fresh thyme.

Angel Hair Pasta with Lobster Tail and Lemony Sun Dried tomatoes and Capers Butter Sauce

Whenever I prepare lobster rolls (click HERE for the recipe), I cook one or two extra lobster tails, to use in different dishes.
This time, I decided to use the cooked lobster in a quick and light pasta dish. I opted for a lemony butter sauce, as the lemon beautifully complements the somewhat sweetish flavor of the lobster meat, and butter, as it simply makes everything better. Continue reading

A Few Dishes with Dandelion Greens

Dandelion is known mostly as a seasonal plant, of which all its parts have been used in cooking and traditional medicine from ancient times. To many who are unfamiliar with the plant, the greens are many times considered an invasive weed in fields and gardens, but they are in fact edible and highly nutritious. As I’m not a gardener myself, nor a forager of wild greens, I’ve never tried them, until I recently found them at the store, and decided to buy a bunch. Continue reading

Spaghetti with Goat Cheese, Prosciutto and Walnuts

Spaghetti with Goat Cheese, Prosciutto and Walnuts Ronit PensoThis tasty and easy to make dish I have for you here, is perfect for a quick lunch or light dinner. Once you gather the ingredients it takes minutes to assemble and serve the dish. Continue reading