Warm spices, creamy Béchamel Sauce and a meaty tomato sauce make this Greek pasta casserole a long-remembered comfort meal. Long tube pasta is the traditional choice and I used penne. I made this version lighter, keeping it dairy free using almond milk and making a non-dairy Parmesan cheese. You can also use cream and Parmesan cheese and add more veggies if you like. My mom’s a fan of mushrooms, so I added some baby portobellos. The great thing about so many of these recipes is that you can put your own stamp on it with adding what you like and need. Makes cooking an adventure!
Recipe is below.
Two characters, one DNA, 300 years apart in Scotland, deal with tragedy and search for meaning and love in their lives. Author Sherry Ostroff reveals much about the two time periods and her characters in her historical romance, Caledonia. “Writing is like [being] taken away to another time. A few months ago, I met with a local book group. One of the questions that was posed to me at the end was, ‘Will humanity ever learn?’ My answer was no. We humans have short memories and are never mindful of the phrase - history repeats itself. I don't think Hanna and Anna (and other characters) dealt with tragedy any differently than we do.”
Anna and Hanna are bound by mysterious circumstances and we follow the well written and paced uncovering of family history and what links the centuries, families and women.
Non-Dairy “Parmesan Cheese”
1/4 cup nuts such as cashews, walnuts, pecans or almonds
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Dash black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups pasta, chunky such as penne, ziti or spiral
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons Parmesan, optional
1 pound ground beef, turkey, veal or combination
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced thinly
1 8-ounces canned crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
14 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups milk of choice or cream
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs, beaten
Vegan ”Parmesan Cheese”
Put all ingredients of non-dairy Parmesan Cheese ingredients in food processor. Pulse until the texture is crumbly. Do not overprocess or you will have nut butter!
Cook pasta according to package directions with 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt. Drain, toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and Parmesan, optional, and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 F.
Sauté onion and bell pepper. Add meat and brown. Drain any excess liquid.
Stir in crushed tomatoes, wine, salt, thyme, cinnamon, allspice and sugar. Simmer 20 minutes.
In a jar with a lid, mix 1/2 cup of milk, flour and salt. Shake jar to combine. Add to a saucepan and pour in rest of milk. Cook over low heat until bubbly and mixture begins to thicken. Cook 2 minutes more, stirring. Add about half the amount to the beaten eggs, in a bowl. Stir. Return to milk mixture to pot on the stove.
Place pasta evenly on bottom of 13”9” inch ovenproof pan. Pour meat mixture over pasta, smoothing with a spoon to fully cover pasta. Pour béchamel sauce over meat mixture. Smooth with spoon to fully cover meat mixture. Sprinkle with extra cinnamon and Parmesan, if desired, on top.
Bake uncovered in a 350 oven for 30 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. Make an extra, bake and freeze for a future time. Defrost and reheat.
Add cheese: Add 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese with meat mixture before baking. Sprinkle top of Pastitsio with extra Parmesan.
Dairy Free: Use non-dairy milk and non-dairy Parmesan cheese, recipe below.
Sugar Free: Use sugar substitute in the meat mixture, quantity according to the package directions
Add veggies: Add thinly sliced zucchini, yellow squash, Japanese eggplant, spinach, mushrooms, green onions, cherry tomatoes, portobellos
#Greek #pasta and meat #comfort food