Monday, November 5, 2012


Weekday dinners in our house have been kept fairly simple over the last couple of weeks. 

With the weather already very warm (summers here!), and a garden overflowing with fresh salad greens, there has been limited cooking. A lot of grilled chicken, barbecued meat or quiches all served with a giant 'help yourself salad' salad. 

Last night I made another old favourite, pastitso (pah-STEET-see-oh), a good alternative to lasagne or moussaka. Served again with a big salad, picked fresh from the garden while the sun set. 

And great news, I don't have to cook at all tonight - there are heaps of leftovers!


serves 8  

• 500 grams penne  
• 4 tablespoons olive oil  
• 1 onion (diced)
• 2 cloves garlic (crushed)  
• 750 grams lamb or beef mince  
• 1 x 445 gram tinned tomatoes
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 1/2 cup white wine  
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano  
• 1 bay leaf
salt and pepper

bechamel sauce

• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1/2 cup flour
• 3 cups milk
• pinch of nutmeg  
• 1 egg (lightly beaten)

• 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
• 3/4 cup parmesan cheese (grated)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease a large (24x38cm) baking dish. Cook the penne in boiling water until just cooked. While this is cooking, make the meat sauce. 

In a large pot gently saut√© the onion and garlic. Add the meat and cook on a high heat until the meat has browned. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, white wine, cinnamon, oregano, bay leaf and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2o minutes. 

To make the bechamel sauce: In a saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Gradually add the milk, and stir slowly until thickened. Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. When the sauce has cooled slightly, stir through the beaten egg. 

To assemble the pastitsio, sprinkle the bottom of the baking dish with the breadcrumbs. Spread over half of the penne and cover with the meat sauce. Then spread over the remaining penne and cover with the bechamel sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan and bake for 45- 50 minutes. Leave to sit for 10 minutes before cutting.

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