I absolutely LOVE Pastitsio. I guess I love my particular version, as there are so many versions of it. At the end of the day, you just have to make it your own. I’ve made it a few times and its a definite keeper. I love the process. I especially love the delicate creamy Bechamel Sauce that hugs the meaty pasta goodness underneath. Aside from the fact that I like it – my kids like it too and THAT should say it all! This is also a great dish for entertaining.
The big surprise for me, was the ingredient that I never expected… cinnamon. It added such a lovely flavour. I will warn you… don’t add more than what is specified in the recipe below. Too much cinnamon in this dish is no good. Take my word for it.
I added sweet pepper and zucchini because I like to incorporate vegetables within the dish itself. Zucchini is one of those sturdy veggies that are so versatile – you can roast, steam, sauté, blend… seriously. It’s just that good. Turkey lightens it up a bit for me since I don’t have red meat so often. I’ve made it with lamb before and it was just as good. As I always say… use what you have on hand.
Here’s the recipe:
- 450g Ground Turkey (or Extra Lean Ground Beef, Veal or Lamb)
- 1 Onion, finely diced
- 3 Cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 Medium Zucchini, gratered
- 1/2 Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
- 1 1/2 Cups Elbow Pasta, Cooked al dente, drained
- 1/2 Cup Tomato Sauce (or a small tin tomato paste)
- 1/2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1/4 Cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth
- 1 Tsp Thyme
- 1 Tsp Salt
- 1 Tsp Pepper
- 3 Tbsp Butter
- 1/4 Cup Flour
- 1 1/2 Cups Milk
- 1/4 Cup Gratered Parmesan Cheese
- Pre-heat your oven to 375F
- In a large hot skillet, add turkey. Season with salt, pepper and thyme. Brown meat and add onion. Combine. After about 10 minutes, drain any oil that is released from the meat. Reduce heat.
- To the turkey, add broth, tomato sauce, zucchini, bell pepper, cinnamon, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Cook for about 15 minutes.
- Add pasta. Stir until combined. Transfer the turkey/pasta mixture into a 9 X 13 baking dish. Or individual oven-safe bowls, like what I did. I used 2 4oz and 4 16oz bowls. Baking time is the same.
- Bechamel sauce – In a warm pot, add butter and allow to melt. Add flour and whisk to combine. At medium heat, gently whisk constantly and add milk gradually until a smooth consistency is achieved. Add parmesan. Stir to combine. This should take about 10 minutes. When nice and creamy, remove from heat.
- Gently pour the bechamel sauce over the turkey (I used a ladle), ensuring an even layer on top covers the meat completely from corner to corner.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes until cream sauce is puffed up and golden. Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted from Everyday Food