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What’s a Pastitsio? I’ll Tell You…

This entry is part of a series, RdJ»

Pastitsio

Short answer: It’s a really tasty Greek casserole. Easy to make. And relatively inexpensive…

Here’s a recipe, adapted from one that appeared recently in Family Circle magazine:

  • 8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1½ pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 can petite-diced tomatoes (onion/garlic flavored preferred)
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper (frozen okay)
  • 1 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 eggs
  • 32 ounces bottled, reduced-fat Alfredo sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 ounce butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Cook the elbowroni just to al dente according to package directions (don’t over-cook). Meantime, heat oven to 375° F and spray a large casserole dish (at least 9 x 13, or 3+ quarts capacity) with non-stick spray. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown the beef lightly. Drain off excess grease, then add tomatoes, peppers and the three spices. Cook, uncovered, for 4-5 minutes, or until liquid is gone; set aside.

After the pasta is drained, layer about half of it into the casserole dish. Put meat mix in next, leveling carefully. Then top with remaining elbows. Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl until blended, then add in the Alfredo sauce and the nutmeg. Pour Alfredo mix gently and evenly over the casserole. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, butter and cheese; mix to even consistency, then spread evenly over the top of the casserole.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and delicious. Remove from heat and let stand for about fifteen minutes before serving. (Take it from a pro, don’t get antsy and take a bite too early.) Don’t tell the crew that it’s a simple casserole when you serve it, they’ve had those; be sure to tell them it’s a pastitsio, and do so in your best Greek accent. It’s sure to impress…

Enjoy the (Creamy Casserole) Heat!

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