BM# 76: Week 1/ Day 3
Theme: Flavors of Greece
For the last day of this week’s marathon, I have a hearty and delicious Greek dish called Pastistio. I thought I would give the oven a break after all that baking for the mega marathon, but I guess that was wishful thinking. Also the weather here is still a little chilly, so it’s perfect to warm up the kitchen.Pastistio is Greek style lasagna. It has all the components of Italian lasagna — pasta, tomato sauce, bechamel sauce and cheese. But all the components are prepared Greek style. Long thick pasta like bucatini is used to make the dish, but you can substitute with short cut pastas like penne, ziti — I used some meze (short) rigatoni.Tomato sauce is flavored with cinnamon which gives the sauce a nice subtle sweet taste. Ground Oregano gives it the authentic Greek flavor. Pasta is layered with the tomato sauce, creamy & cheesy bechamel sauce and a final layer of cheese — it is then baked until bubbly and golden.Traditionally this is a meat based dish and is made with ground beef, veal or lamb. Since I wanted to make a vegetarian version, I used mushrooms instead of meat in this dish. Other vegetarian options would be chopped veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, peppers and so on. TVP (aka soy granules) or lentils (red, green or brown) will also work great in this recipe.I made this casserole in individual baking pans, but it is perfect to make in a big baking dish. Serve with a simple green salad for a filling and delicious meal.
For the Pasta:
- 8oz. Short cut Pasta like Penne, Ziti, Rigatoni etc.
- 2 cups Cheddar Cheese, grated
For the Mushroom Bechamel Sauce:
- 8 oz. Baby Bella Mushrooms, chopped
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1/8 tsp Ground Nutmeg
- To taste Salt Pepper
For the Tomato Sauce:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 Small Yellow Onion, chopped
- 2 Garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- ½ tsp Ground Oregano
- 2 cups Tomato puree
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- To taste Salt Pepper
Make the Tomato Sauce:
- Heat oil in a sauce pan; add the onions and garlic cloves, cook for 4~5 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
- Add the tomato puree, ground cinnamon, ground oregano, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Mix well and simmer the sauce for 20~30 minutes or until thick and fragrant.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Make the Mushroom Bechamel Sauce:
- Heat 1tbsp olive oil in a pan; add the mushrooms and saute until golden. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Melt the butter in the pan, sprinkle the flour and cook till the mixture turns light brown.
- Stir in the milk while whisking continuously. Cook till the sauce thickens slightly.
- Stir in 1½cups of grated cheese and cook on low flame till melted. Add ground nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add the cooked mushrooms and mix well.
- Cook pasta 2 minutes short of package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- Spoon some tomato sauce in the bottom of a 8" baking pan (or 4 individual baking pans). Add half of the pasta over it. Top with half of the tomato sauce and half of the mushroom bechamel. Repeat with the remaining pasta, tomato sauce and mushroom sauce.
- Sprinkle the remaining ½cup of cheese on top. Bake for 25~35 minutes or until the top is bubbly and golden.