Since pasta is one of my favorite things I finally was able to decide on a pasta dish called Pastitsio. I had never heard of this pasta before but I thought it was interesting that there is both a homemade red meat sauce and a homemade white sauce. The use of warm winter spices was perfect for the chilly month of March.
The pastitsio was delicious. The red sauce was thick, meaty, and full of spices. The white sauce was creamy and cheesy. Mixed together with penne pasta and baked in the oven it had the perfect balance of red and white. The spices and ingredients went together nicely and it created a unique flavor combination. This would be a dish I would serve for company as it could easily be prepared ahead of timed and heated in the oven later on.
Pastitsio (adapted from Let's Try These)
1 lb. lean ground beef
6 garlic cloves, minced and divided
1 t. cinnamon
2 t. oregano
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1/2 t. paprika
2 t. parsley
1 t. sugar
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 c. red wine
1 pound penne pasta
1 (12-oz) can evaporated milk
1 1/2 c. beef broth
2 T. butter
1/4 c. flour
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
1/2 c. mozzarella cheese
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add in the ground beef. Cook until browned.
3. Add in four of the minced garlic cloves, the cinnamon, oregano, pepper flakes, paprika, parsley, sugar, salt, and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant and spices are
4. Add the tomatoes, sauce, and wine. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer until the sauce is thick, about 20 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
6. Heat the milk and beef broth in a microwave safe dish for 3-5 minutes or until it is hot and steaming.
7. In a medium saucepan heat the butter and remaining 2 cloves minced garlic. Cook for 2 minutes then whisk in the flour until well blended.
8. Pour in hot milk mixture while whisking until the sauce is smooth and starts to thicken. Stir in 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese and nutmeg.
9. In a small bowl beat the egg. Add in a ladle full of the broth mixture to temper the egg. Mix well then add the egg mixture to the milk mixture on the stove. Stir until well combined.
10. Pour half of the meat sauce mixture in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Then spread half of the pasta over the meat sauce. Cover with remaining meat sauce and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.
11. Top with remaining pasta then pour the milk mixture over top of the pasta. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
12. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 10-15 minutes. Cut into portions and serve.
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