Fussy but Yummy Pastitsio

Warning! This recipe is very fussy and takes a long time to prepare. Don't start it if you aren't willing to go the distance, because you can't take shortcuts. Pastitisio is a Greek dish, a casserole with layers of pasta covered in creamy sauce and a meat sauce layer. The traditional Pastitsio calls for ground beef but I make mine with ground turkey or chicken.

Pastitsio

  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil (I use Canola)

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 1/2 lb ground turkey or chicken

  • 2 tsp of fresh oregano and basil. If you haven't got fresh, use 1 tsp each of dried

  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/2 each salt, pepper, white sugar

  • 1 tsp fresh thyme. If you haven't got fresh, use 1/2 tsp dried

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 1/2 cup tomato paste

  • 1 can (19 oz) tomatoes, well mashed

  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

The above ingredients are for the meat sauce you will be making. Here's the pasta sauce ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups large bow tie shells. You can use a different pasta if you prefer but be sure it is a pasta that will hold the creamy sauce

  • 1/2 cup butter (I use margarine)

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour

  • 3 1/2 cups milk. I use skim, you will get a richer flavour if you use 2%

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

  • bit of pepper

  • 2 eggs. I use our own farm fresh eggs. If you don't have a chicken or two wandering around in your yard and you need help figuring out which eggs to buy in the grocery store, see my post Getting it Eggsactly Right!

  • 1 cup creamed Cottage Cheese

  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella Cheese

  • 1/4 grated Goat's Milk Parmesan Cheese. I use Goat's Milk Parmesan for a delicous flavour but you can use any kind you like

Method:

  • In Dutch oven heat oil over meidum heat. Saute the onion and minced garlic for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Don't let them brown! They only need to be soft. Add the ground turkey and cook for about 3 minutes or until no more pink shows. Stir in the oregano, basil, cinnamon, salt, pepper, sugar and thyme. Cook for 3 more minutes

  • Add wine, tomato paste, and mashed tomatoes. Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes uncovered. Add the parsley and set aside

Pasta Sauce:

  1. In large pot of boiling lightly salted water cook the pasta about 8 minutes, just until tender but still firm. Drain. Transfer to large bolw and toss with 1 tbsp of the butter or margarine. Set aside

  2. In heavy saucepan melt the rest of the butter or margarine over medium heat. Stir in flour. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Do not brown. Gradually stir in the milk and cook for 3 minutes until thickened. Stir in salt, nutmeg and pepper

  3. In a large bowl whisk the eggs. Add about 1/2 cup of the hot cream sauce and return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook for 2 minutes stirring. Take from heat and add cottage cheese and mozzarella. Stir this into the pasta.

  4. Now spread 1/2 of the pasta mixture into a 13x9 glass baking dish. Spread meat filling over the top. Spread the rest of the pasta mixture over the meat. Sprinkle with parmesan and bake at 375' for 1 hour. Top needs to be lightly browned. Let it stand for 10 minutes before serving.
I serve this with a nice Caesar Salad and Garlic Bread with Goat's Milk Cheese and Roasted Red Peppers.

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