Sunday, July 22, 2007

My Quick “Pastitsio”

I dare say this is the best pasta I have ever had!!!

This is a traditional Greek dish made with ground lamb that slowly simmers. I quickened up the cooking time and lightened the dish by using ground turkey and skim milk. When it comes out of the oven you can hear it bubbling! Enjoy!

1 pound penne
1 pound ground lamb/beef/turkey, your choice
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup red wine (or lager beer:)
1 - 6oz can tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons EVOO
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups skim milk
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place a large pot on the stove and bring about 6 cups of water to a boil.

In a seperate large skillet, over medium heat, cook meat and onion, breaking apart pieces with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 6 to 8 minutes. Meanwhile, once water is boiling, add a handful of salt and cook pasta 6 minutes, then drain and reserve.

Add wine to the meat mixture; cook 2-3 minutes until almost all liquid has evaporated. Stir in tomato paste and cinnamon, season with salt and pepper. Once meat is cooked through add cooked pasta to the meat mixture and stir. Pour into a 9x13 baking dish.

Make Parmesan Cheese Sauce: In the same empty pasta pot, add EVOO and melt butter over medium heat; whisk in flour until incorporated, about 30 seconds. In a slow steady stream, whisk in milk until there are no lumps. Cook, whisking often, until mixture is thick and coats the back of a wooden spoon, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in cayenne and Parmesan.

Pour sauce over the top. Bake until browned in spots, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool 15 minutes before serving.

(Alternatively, after topping with cheese sauce you can also cool it down to room temperature, wrap with plastic wrap and foil and place in the freezer. When ready to serve, thaw in refrigerator overnight and then bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes with foil on, remove foil and continue baking for 15 minutes until cheese is golden brown.)


nicole said...

This pasta is SOOO good...I made it last night for dinner (I'm eating leftovers right now for lunch). I used the ground turkey and couldn't even tell the difference. The only thing I did wrong was not bring the parm sauce to a boil (and shut off the heat directly after). Chris said that flavors can't totally integrate until something is brought to a boil...I'm still learning :) He loved this receipe and already asked if I would make it again sometime. Thanks for sharing it!

Jessica said...

Oh, you are great! I am so glad you tried it! It tastes like the best mac and cheese and lasagna all in one dish to me! (Yeah, let the milk and cheese come to a good simmer for a couple minutes, keep an eye on it though - once you know how to make a cheese sauce like this - you could use cheddar or whatever - you can make the best stovetop mac and cheese.)

nicole said...

This dish is a great comfort food without being too bad for you. I'm sure you also used organic, nonprocessed pasta, organic tomato paste and skim milk...yay for healthy(er) comfort food. Chris said this sauce is one of the hardest to master (i think it was the demise of some of his culinary classmates). You're right, it's lasagna, mac and cheese, baked ziti...all of the italian (or greek) things I love all in one. We loved it!

Anonymous said...

"I dare say this is the best pasta I have ever had!!!"

If you do say so yourself...