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Pastitsio: Greek comfort food

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Pastitsio is a comfort food enjoyed mostly by the people of Greece. A simple macaroni dish when prepared has some similarities to baked pasta or lasagna. One difference is the traditional way the macaroni is placed in the pan. The penne or ziti noodles are individually lined so that they all face in one direction. This is time consuming to do while giving the dish a beautiful look when sliced and served. With ground beef, tomato sauce and some unique flavorings this dinner selection will make everyone wanting seconds.

Although this is not a Southern dish there are some Winonans that enjoy something different for dinner every now and then. Gathering together ingredients from the Winona SuperValu or from the specialty aisle in the Grocery Basket or Spain’s market will prepare you for this international delight.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of cooked pasta
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup of oil
  • 2 pounds of ground beef
  • 1 small can of tomato sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 quart of whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • ½ pound (or 2 sticks) of melted butter
  • 6 eggs

Directions:

  1. Fill a large pot with water and set it to boil.
  2. While waiting for the water to boil take out a large frying pan and heat the oil in it.
  3. Sauté the onion in the heated oil till tender and translucent.
  4. Then add the ground beef and cooked until browned.
  5. Drain additional oil and fat from the pan.
  6. Add the macaroni to the boiling water and cook the pasta part way or andante.
  7. Add the tomato sauce, 1 can of water, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper and stir everything together.
  8. Allow mixture to simmer for 20 minutes.
  9. Separate the meat sauce into two bowls.
  10. Drain the macaroni and mix with one of the bowls full of meat sauce.
  11. Arrange the macaroni in a baking dish in layers.
  12. Sprinkle grated cheese in-between the layers.
  13. Then pour the remaining meat sauce over the top once again and set dish aside.
  14. Reheat oven to 350’.
  15. In a bowl mix together 1 cup of milk with the cornstarch and stir well.
  16. In a large saucepan add the untouched milk, the butter and the eggs.
  17. Now add the cornstarch mixture and heat over a medium flame.
  18. Stir constantly until mixture gets thick. (Similar to the feel of pudding)
  19. Remove pan from stove when milk mixture thickens and pour it over the top of the macaroni mixture.
  20. Bake in oven for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown.
  21. Remove from oven and place on trivet and dinner is ready to be served.
  22. Enjoy!

Suggestions:

  • Having some additional tomato sauce on the side is a smart idea. Some prefer Pastitsio as the recipe states and others prefer a little extra sauce once it comes from the oven.
  • Some French or Italian bread on the side with or without butter gives dinner a nice touch.
  • A small garden salad rounds out this meal well.

Copyright 2011 Beverly Mucha / All Rights Reserved

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