Firinda Kiymali Makarna is a Turkish baked dish with layers of pasta, seasoned ground beef, vegetables, and cheese. Penne and macaroni are popular shapes for the pasta. This particular recipe simply combines shredded cheese and eggs as a topping. I enjoyed the ease of this step with a newborn at home. A bechamel topping is also commonly used.
I layered the meat mixture over the pasta, but they are often mixed together before topping with the cheese.
Instead of making 1 9×13 inch baking dish, I divided the ingredients between two 8×8 inch baking dishes. I baked one for lunch immediately after assembling and refrigerated the other to save for the next night’s dinner. To bake after refrigerating ahead of time, cover the top with foil and bake for 30-45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown.
Halloumi (Hellim in Turkish) is a white, semi-hard cheese originally from Cyprus. It is made from a mixture of goat and sheep’s milk (though occasionally cow’s milk is also used). Its high melting point makes the cheese popular for grilling or frying. I have seen it in the specialty cheese section of some larger grocery stores. It is often packaged with mint. If you can’t find it, use mozzarella instead. If you do use Halloumi cheese, soak it in water for 5 minutes, then dry before shredding.
Firinda Kiymali Makarna
Adapted from Binnur’s Turkish Cookbook
1 (9×13 inch) Baking Dish
1 pound uncooked pasta (macaroni or penne)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground beef
2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup crushed or pureed tomatoes
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 pound shredded Halloumi or fresh Mozzarella cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until barely tender, al dente. Drain.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish (or 2 8×8 inch). Add the cooked and drained pasta.
In a large pan, drizzle olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Crumble in the ground beef. Cook, breaking apart the ground beef, until browned. Stir in the carrots, tomatoes, paprika, oregano, salt, and pepper. Reduce temperature to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley. Pour over the pasta.
In a large bowl, combine shredded cheese and eggs. Spread it in an even layer over the meat mixture. Bake in preheated oven until cheese is golden brown, 15-20 minutes.