Friday, 10 April 2015

Pastitsio, recipe for a Greek vegetarian pasta dish


Pastitsio, the classic Athenian recipe, a pasta bake, similar to lasagne, but made with long tubular macaroni called 'mezzani'. If you can't find it where you live, feel free to use shorter macaroni, or bucatini, which is Italian pasta with a smaller tube. But if, like me, you believe certain shapes of pasta go with particular sauces and are a little bit fussy about that, make the effort to get the right pasta. 
I admit that I'm a pasta fascist. I recoil with horror when my daughter puts different shaped pasta together in the same pot. Of different cooking times! No. Just no. 
My other pasta rules: buy the very best, the stuff that costs a couple of pounds a packet. You aren't exactly breaking the bank with that. In fact this is one of my life rules: if you don't have much money, go luxe on the cheaper things of life. Buy great soap, great pasta, great tinned tomatoes. Never buy cheap pasta and of course never EVER buy quick cook. 
Do not confuse pastitsio with pasticcio, an Italian dish, which is more like a pie (although you will see recipes around the internet which call it by the latter name).
I think this is a great supper club or dinner party dish, as you can make everything in advance, assemble it, then bung it in the oven while your guests are here, leaving you hands-free to serve drinks and chat.


Vegetarian Pastitsio Recipe


Serves 8 to 10 people


Ingredients


The tomato sauce
A heavy splash of olive oil
1 litre of passata (or 1 500g box of passata and 1 tin of chopped tomatoes)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp of fresh thyme leaves
Sea salt
The pasta
500g macaroni, ideally ‘mezzani’
1 tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil
The mushroom béchamel
1 kilo of mushrooms, thinly sliced
50g unsalted butter and a splash of olive oil.
1/2 glass of white wine
75g of unsalted butter
6 tbsps of flour
1.5 litres of whole milk
1 tsp of ground nutmeg
Sea salt to taste
White pepper, ground
Cheese topping
200g grated hard sheep cheese, Cheddar or tomme

For the method go to my blog post on this recipe  where I also talk about my new found love of Greek wines (even Retsina!) in my winetrust100.com column. And I explain how to keep all of your pasta in straight lines. 

5 comments:

  1. This sounds delicious, an affordable feast! Love your new blog header, too.

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    1. Thanks Debs, it really is tasty. My mum did the drawings for the header...

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  2. Great advice as usual Kerstin and I'm totally going to make this for my little girl if I can find some of that mezzani. It looks like something she could eat her weight in, she certainly couldn't get enough of Sally Butcher's koshari. Double carb tastic.

    Was pleased to see my local Aldi has started selling bronze die pasta.

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    1. Chloe, this is a very child-friendly recipe. My 'child' would have been weird about the mushrooms though so one could leave those out of perhaps blitz them so that you have the flavour but don't notice them. I don't know Sally's recipe for that, which book is it in?

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  3. It's in Veggiestan, under Kushari, Egyptian Street Food. Basically rice, brown lentils and macaroni with tomato, onions and chilli. So good! I ended up making enough for about ten people last time.

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