Sunday, July 29, 2007

Pastitsio


We were inspired by the bounty of eggplant this week -- a few Japanese varieties from our CSA, as well as an Udalumpet and a Florida Highbush from our own garden. So, we decided to make a Greek-inspired main dish casserole. For those of you who can appreciate moussaka, this will be a real treat (it's what inspired the dish -- so its resemblance is no accident). Vegetarians can add zucchini and tofu crumbles in place of the lamb for a vegetarian main dish (we'll do that another day, for sure!).

Pastitsio
This Greek pasta dish is reminiscent of moussaka
Serves 6-8
INGREDIENTS:
2 T olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 T + 1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
1 T dried oregano ( 2 T fresh, chopped)
Black pepper
Salt
¼ cup Italian flatleaf parsley, chopped
28 oz tomatoes, in their own juices
1 lb ground lamb
1 cup red wine
6 T olive oil
6 cups eggplant, cubed (2 medium)
1 medium red pepper, chopped

CUSTARD:
2 cups milk
½ stick butter (2 oz)
3 small garlic cloves
¼ cup flour
¼ cup feta, crumbled
1 cup Gruyere (Swiss) cheese, grated
¾ cup cottage cheese, drained for 20 minutes
1 tsp nutmeg, ground
5 large eggs

8 oz penne (or other tubular pasta), preferably whole wheat
½ cup dried bread crumbs

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute onion and garlic until soft (about 5-6 minutes). Add ground lamb. Cook until lightly browned. Add red wine and boil until reduced by ½. Add tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minuites. Add cinnamon, allspice, oregano, pepper, salt, and parsley. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until almost all liquid is evaporated.

While sauce is simmering, heat 3 T olive oil in large skillet. Saute eggplant until golden brown, in batches, until all is cooked. Drain on paper towels. Saute red pepper until tender. Set eggplant and pepper aside.

Mix feta, gruyere, and cottage cheese together with nutmeg. Set aside.
Beat eggs with whisk until light yellow and frothy.
Preheat oven to 350ºF

Melt butter with garlic over medium heat. When melted, add flour and stir until golden, about 2 minutes. Add milk ½ cup at a time, stirring until combined after each addition. Bring to a boil. Take off heat. Add cheese to milk mixture. Stir until cheese is melted. Add 1/3 egg mixture to milk mixture. Whisk until incorporated. Then, add remainder of egg mixture. Stir to combine.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; mix pasta with lamb mixture.

Grease 9x13 baking pan or casserole dish. Add ½ eggplant mixture to pan. Pour lamb/pasta mixture over top. Layer rest of eggplant over top of lamb mixture. Pour egg/milk/cheese mixture over top. Top with bread crumbs.

Bake at 350º for 50-60 minutes, or until custard is set. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.




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