Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday, Pastitsio

This month's challenge in the Mediterranean food contest is Greek: Pastitsio.

I thought, "Greek? I don't cook Greek food, except for the little lamb pita sandwiches I make sometimes." Those sandwiches always explode right out of the pockets.

I went to and looked up "pastitsio": a Greek version of lasagna.

Game on!

I decided to find a way to take the flavors that I love in my little sandwiches and put them into a layered pasta dish.


Pasta layer
Cook 1/2 pound of tube pasta, such as penne or ziti, according to directions. Drain and cool slightly, then mix with 4 oz. hummus.

Lamb layer
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large leek, thinly sliced
1 pound lamb
1/4 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a pan and saute the leeks and garlic. When they are soft, transfer them to a bowl. Add the lamb to the pan, and brown it. While it's cooking, season it with salt and pepper, add the cumin, and add the herbs. When the lamb is done, remove it with a slotted spoon and combine it with the leeks and garlic.

Cheese layer
3 cloves roasted garlic
1 lb. ricotta cheese
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

Chop or mash the roasted garlic and then mix it with the cheeses.

Tomato layer
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2Tbsp. sun-dried tomato paste
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
salt and pepper
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Heat the tomatoes, vinegar, tomato paste, and thyme to a simmer. Add the olives. Season with salt and pepper, and continue to simmer until the liquid has reduced. Turn off the heat, and stir in the parsley.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly oil an 8-inch-square glass baking dish. Spread half the pasta on the bottom, top with half the lamb, then half the cheese, and half the tomatoes. Repeat, and then sprinkle the top with 2 oz. crumbled feta cheese and some sesame seeds.

Bake 30 minutes, and then let it rest for 10 minutes, at least.

I realize not everyone has roasted garlic sitting around, but we've taken to roasting three or four bulbs at a time and storing it in the refrigerator so it's always ready.

If you want the layers to stay intact, you can let it cool completely and then bake it again. On a Friday night, after a long day at the end of a long week of work, we skipped that part.

It isn't a light meal and it isn't a quick meal, but I had a lot of fun making it, and eating it (I admit, I had seconds).


Jane said...

In spite of Chinese food overload since landing in San Francisco Thursday afternoon(6 restaurants in 3 days!), your recipe sounds awesome. I'm a great fan of roasted garlic.

Martha Silano said...

Whoa, that looks good. I just made some muffins and left out the melted butter.

Joannie said...

Jane, if you're going to go on Chinese food overload, is there any better place than San Francisco? Sounds yummy to me.

Martha,if you're hungry, come on over--we've got a lot left. For me, the trick with leaving out melted butter is figuring out what to use instead (or "when can't I use olive oil?).