Greek Pastitsio

The Greek version of the Italian lasanga, pastitsio consists of a creamy béchamel sauce, pasta, and traditionally, lamb meat. You can be creative here with the substitutions. I used tvp, but I can see a variety of things working with this dish (lentils, soy, seitan, mushroom).

Serves 4-6

What you need:

for the filling
3 tbsp margarine or olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cups texturized vegetable protein (tvp), dry
4 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup bread crumbs

for the béchamel
3 tbsp margarine
4 tbsp flour
4 cups plain soy milk
pinch of salt
pinch of nutmeg

for the pasta
3 cups dry tubular pasta
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C). Bring pot of water to a boil, add 1 tbsp of olive oil, and cook pasta until al dente. Strain and set aside. In a large pan, melt the 3 tbsp butter on medium-high heat and add the chopped onion. Sauté for 10 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add the tvp, tomato paste, and spices and mix in well. Add the vegetable broth and wine and cook for around 10 minutes or until the tvp has soaked up most of the liquid. Remove from heat and mix in the bread crumbs. In a medium size pot on medium heat, melt the 3 tbsp margarine. Then add the flour and mix in well until a paste forms. Add the soy milk and whisk until the sauce begins to boil (this will take a while). Add salt and nutmeg and remove from heat. Now you can begin assembling the pastitsio. On the bottom of a casserole dish, spread 1 tbsp margarine or oil. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of bread crumbs on top. Spread half of the pasta on top of the bread crumbs. Pour 1 cup of béchamel on the pasta layer. Then add all of the tvp mixture and spread smooth. Pour another cup of béchamel onto the tvp layer. Add the rest of the pasta and spread out evenly. Pour the rest of the béchamel onto the noodles and sprinkle with the remaining bread crumbs. Bake for 50 minutes and let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

the layers in order from bottom up:
margarine or olive oil
bread crumbs
pasta
béchamel
filling
béchamel
pasta
béchamel
bread crumbs

Comments

  1. As I'm Greek I make pastitsio all the time for the family. As you said, traditionally, pastitsio consists of layer of pasta - layer of mincemeat cooked with tomato sauce - layer of pasta again - and finally layer of bechamel sauce. I usually substitute the mincemeat with mushrooms cooked in tomato sauce. It is indeed one of my favorite dishes. :)

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