Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I was in the mood to make lasagna the other day. But I didn't want just a plain ordinary lasagna. Then I remembered that I had saved up a great casserole recipe from Martha Stewart that I've been dying to make. Pastitsio is a Greek casserole dish. I learned of this dish when I was watching Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the Food Network and was curious about how different this dish was from my Baked Ziti recipe.

When I was looking for recipes last week, I came upon this recipe from Martha Stewart and I realized the only difference with this recipe from my Baked Ziti is the cinnamon. Its actually an easier recipe because the sauce base is just tomato paste and wine. I loved the hint of cinnamon in this dish. This is a great make-ahead recipe as well. Just prepare and assemble the casserole and bake when you're ready. I'll definitely be making this new comfort food again.

1 lb. pasta (preferably penne), cooked and drained
oil for cooking
2 lbs. ground meat (beef, turkey, lamb)
2 medium onions, chopped
1/2 cup red wine
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 cup water
salt & pepper to taste
6 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 cups milk
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1) In a large sauce pan, heat about 3 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add ground meat and cook until no longer pink, about 6-8 minutes. Break up meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.

2) Transfer meat mixture to a colander to drain the fat. Return meat mixture to the pan and add the wine. Cover and allow to cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, cinnamon and  water. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15-20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3) Preheat oven to 350 deg F.

4) In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour until incorporated. Slowly whisk in milk. Continue whisking until there are no more lumps. Cook, whisking often, until mixture is thick and bubbly, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in cayenne pepper and Parmesan cheese. Remove from heat and set aside.

5) Add pasta to the meat mixture and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Transfer to a 9x13 inch pan. Pour white sauce over the pasta mixture, smoothing it out until leveled. Bake until tops begin to brown in spots, about 30-40 minutes (40-50 minutes if you've made the casserole ahead and have placed in the refrigerator). Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

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