Pastitsio

More Greek goodness!  This is another one of the recipes my husband and I made during our evening of Greek baking (Check out my Moussaka and Greek Salad Dressing recipes, too).  Pastitsio is a classic recipe that I often order when the yearly Greek festival is going on at our local Greek Orthodox church.  I love going to the Greek fest, as the church nearby is gorgeous and the food is always fantastic.  I can't help but pick up some Tiropitas, Baklava, Galaktoboureko, a bottle of Greek beer, and just about everything else they have every time I go!



I used a basic recipe and made a couple of changes as I went.  For my version, I used beef instead of lamb, and opted to make a homemade sauce rather than using a jar.  I also skipped out on the mint leaves as I didn't have any on hand.

First, I boiled some egg noodles for the dish and set them aside.  The meat sauce required some ground coriander, which I didn't have available.  Fortunately I just recently picked up a mortar and pestle, so I was excited that I had a chance to use it.


To make the meat sauce, I chopped an onion and began cooking it with the ground beef, salt, and pepper in a skillet.  Once the meat was fully cooked, I added the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and allspice.  The recipe called for jarred pasta sauce, but I decided to make my own with tomato paste, tomato sauce, water, basil, and parsley.  I mixed the sauce ingredients in and simmered the sauce for about 5 minutes.


I mixed the noodles in with the sauce, then poured the pasta into a large baking dish sprayed with olive oil.


Next, I made the cheese sauce by heating the milk and heavy cream over medium heat until it began to simmer.  I lowered the heat added in the Parmesan cheese and stirred it until it was melted, then removed it from the heat and stirred in the Greek yogurt.  The recipe called for the milk, heavy cream, and yogurt to be at room temperature, so I let them sit out for a bit before cooking.  They were still cold when I started making the sauce, but it still turned out perfect.


I poured the cheese sauce over the pasta and got the Patsisio in the oven.


I baked the mixture for 25 minutes, until the top began to brown.


Now this is one unique and delicious dish.  My husband called it a "Greek lasagna", and I have to say that is a pretty accurate description.  The sauce meat had a sweet flavor thanks to the coriander and cinnamon, and the Greek yogurt definitely made for a thicker cheese topping.  I can't wait to make this one again!

Pastitsio Recipe

Ingredients:

12 ounces egg noodles
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
large onion
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 can tomato sauce (8 ounces)
1 can tomato paste (6 ounces)
1 1/4 cups water
2 teaspoons basil
1 teaspoon parsley

For the cheese sauce:
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 cups grated Parmesan (about 6 ounces)
1 cup plain Greek yogurt


Instructions:

Boil water and cook noodles until softened.  Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Chop onion, and add to skillet with ground beef. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Once the meat is fully cooked, add the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, allspice, tomato paste, tomato sauce, water, basil, and parsley and mix well.  Simmer for about 5 minutes, then remove from heat and stir in the pasta.  Spray a nonstick baking dish with olive oil, then pour the meat and pasta into it.  To make the cheese sauce, bring the milk and heavy cream to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, then add the cheese and use a fork or whisk to stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the yogurt.  Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta, then bake for 25 minutes, until top begins to brown.

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