Pastitsio (Greek Lasagna)
Everyone loves lasagna. It can be made with or without meat, have vegetables and herbs in it, or simply have cheese and tomato sauce. Greece has their own casserole that is similar to lasagna that they call Pastitsio. Pastitsio is a Greek comfort food and is easy to make. A good dish to prepare if you have many people to serve, pastitsio has a rich bechamel cream sauce and layers of beef or lamb.
1 package frozen spinach
1 large white onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground beef (80/20) or lamb (you can also use a mixture)
1 pound tube shaped pasta (such as wheat penne)
cooking spray (olive or canola oil)
1 cup Panko break crumbs
3 cups Gruyere cheese
2 tablespoons butter
white bechemal sauce- recipe below
1 cup feta cheese
pinch of salt and pepper
Cook package of spinach in microwave. Squeeze out excess water and set aside. Chop one large white onion and 2 cloves of garlic and set aside in small bowl. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Add garlic and onion, cook until softened. Add 1 pound of ground beef and cook 5-8 minutes or until no longer pink. Meanwhile, boil 8 quarts of water, and cook 1 pound of tubular pasta as directed on box or until al dente. Drain pasta and set aside. Coat a glass lasagna casserole dish with cooking spray. Line the bottom with 1 cup of Panko bread crumbs. Mix the 2 cups of gruyere cheese, butter, and white sauce into the pasta and put a layer on the bottom of pan. Add a layer of ground beef, a layer of spinach and a layer of feta cheese. Repeat the layers with breadcrumbs, pasta, beef, spinach, and feta. Top with the rest of the gruyere cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper. Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
White Bechamel Sauce (classic white sauce)
1 cup whole milk
1 tbsp white flour
Pinch of salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
Pinch of nutmeg
Bring milk to a boil and remove from stove. Melt butter in a skillet, then whisk in the flour. Remove from heat and slowly pour in milk stirring with a wire whisk continuously. Return skillet to stove on medium heat and simmer for about 12 minutes until sauce is thickened. Finish with a pinch of salt, pepper, and nutmeg.