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PASTA CASSEROLE

Pastitsio (Greek Lasagna)

Pasta casserole or Pastitsio is among the best dinner ideas when you need a recipe for pasta dishes that can serve a greater group of people. Casserole recipes are very convinient and a healthy way to prepare food, and pasta and meat sauce together with bechamel sauce is a combination that leaves memories of special pasta dishes you have tried.

This dish is among the most loved and cooked in the Mediterranean countries and mostly in Greece. It is perfect for gatherings with family and friends because you can prepare it earlier and then just bake it. You will need to find bucatini pasta or if you can not any long shaped tubular pasta like pene should be fine. Pastitsio is prepared in three steps that are not complicated as it seems if you prepare them one by one and then assemble the dish. Try it especially if you have children, they will love the combination of the meat and sauce that are filling in the spaces in the hollow pasta.

You can also freeze some of it and just warm it before serving.

The meat sauce that is used in this recipe can be easily be adjusted and used in many other recipes. As it is you can use it to stuff cannelloni, tortellini.

Add rice, parsley or dill and stuff peppers and other vegetables. Add grated cheeses and make it a pie filling.

 

INGREDIENTS:

PASTA LAYER:

1 pack (500 gr.)  bucatini pasta or pene

2 egg whites slightly beaten

2 tablespoons bread crumbs

MEAT LAYER (meat sauce) :

750 gr. ground beef

1 medium sized onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 and a half cup grated tomatoes

1/3 cup red vine

1/3 cup olive oil

a pinch of Cinnamon powder

salt and pepper to taste

BECHAMEL SAUCE LAYER:

8 tablespoons butter fresh or olive oil

8 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 and a half liter milk

 

Follow the steps for the basic bechamel sauce recipe.

Prepare the meat sauce first:
Saute the ground meat in a heavy bottom skillet without oil. Use a wooden spoon to stir and brake the crumbs of the meat, until you get small crumbles and the meat changes color. At this point add chopped onion and garlic to the meat. Stir and fry until the onion is soft and looses its fluids. Add the red vine, simmer until it evaporates.. Add the oil, tomato, cinnamon, salt, pepper. Stir well, cover the skillet and simmer for 30 minutes on low temperature, until sauce gets thicker.
While  the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta in salted water. Pour the water, wash with fresh tab water so pasta can get cold faster.. Strain and place pasta in a large bowl. Use a fork to slightly beat the egg whites. Add them to the pasta and stir well.
Take a large baking pan. The ingredients given in the recipe are for 16 to 20 servings that is the big black pan that comes with the electric stove. Put some olive oil or butter on the bottom and sprinkle the bread crumbs. Place half of the pasta on the bottom.  Press the pasta to make an even layer. Add the meat, then pasta on the top. Pour bechamel sauce on the top, sprinkle  some grated nutmeg.
Bake for 40 minutes on 180 degrees Celsius. Let is rest for at least 10 minutes before you serve it. The longer it rests the easier it is to cut  and serve the pastitsio.

 

Menu Ideas