Monday, 27 January 2014

Greek Pastitsio (layered pasta with meat and bechamel topping)

I love pasta and bechamel sauce, so this really appealed to me. It is almost like a lasagne - but in a different sort of way. It tasted absolutely delicious mashAllah!!! I really recommend this to everyone! Ingredients are easy to find and the process is not difficult.

  • Skill level: Easy
  • Serves: 6-8 people
  • Prep time: 1 ish hours
  • Oven cooking time: 30-35 mins
What you will need:

For the meat sauce

2 tbsp olive oil
500g minced meat (add more if you like)
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 x 400g can chopped tomato
2 tbsp tomato puree
3 tbsp chopped parsley
3/4 tbsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp breadcrumbs

For the pasta

500g dry macaroni or penne pasta
100g unsalted butter
4 egg whites
1 cup cheddar cheese

For the bechamel sauce

220g unsalted butter
1 cup plain flour
1 litre warmed milk
8 egg yolks, beaten gently
pinch of nutmeg (if available)
1 cup cheddar cheese

How to make:

1) In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the meat and cook until the colour changes. Add the onions and cook for a further 5 mins or until they become translucent

2) Add the can of chopped tomato, the tomato puree, parsley, salt, cinnamon, all spice and black pepper. Mix and allow to simmer for 10 mins over low heat

3) In the meantime, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions - once cooked drain in a colander and run under cold water. In the same pasta pot, add the butter and melt on medium heat. Add the pasta followed by the egg whites and cheese, and mix gently then set aside

4) Add breadcrumbs to the meat mixture to thicken it up and then take off the heat

5) In a deep oven proof dish, brush the bottom and sides with olive oil. Add half the noodles as the bottom layer, pressing down to keep compact. Add the meat mixture and spread evenly. Add the rest of the pasta on top, and press down

6) Make the bechamel sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan over low heat, and the flour and mix using a hand whisk. Keep mixing for at least a minute, then slowly - little at a time - add the warm milk, continously whisking the mixture (this will be good exercise for your arm - you may wish to get someone to take over after a while). Be patient, keep mixing until the mixture thickens - but does not boil

7) When the bechamel sauce has thickened (you may test by dipping in a wooden spoon, make a line through the back of the spoon, if the sauce is thick it will keep that line you made), remove off the heat and whisk in the egg yolks

8) Add the bechamel sauce over the pasta and allow to go right to the edges. Top with more cheddar cheese then place into a hot 200 degrees Celsius oven for 30-35 mins or until the top has become nice and golden

It may be difficult to keep the shape when you cut a piece, but nonetheless, even if it was all mixed up, it will still taste delicious!!! Enjoy :)

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