I love Greek food. So many of it is fresh and uses tons of lemon, oregano, and other delicacies from an amazing country. When I think of Greece, I picture sipping on a cocktail on the island of Santorini and eating fresh fish with lemon. Yeah, this dish is nothing like that. It is rustic, hearty, and well.... probably fattening. I took an idea that I saw on The Chew called Pastitsio. I am familiar with this dish. In fact I have had it many times just never made it myself. My baked pastas for never failed me so I figured I would try it out.
Traditionally pastitsio is a baked penne dish with a thick layer of bechamel and cheese topping. Delicious? Yep.Seeing as it is the first day of Spring is today. I figured I would offer a lightened version. For those of you that love meat, or the full fat version go for it! For substitutes for this recipe, instead of ground beef I used eggplant ( meaty texture, less calories.) If your family loves meat, add lean sirloin or both eggplant and sirloin.It will still taste awesome. Also don't skip on the spices even if you think cinnamon in pasta is weird. It is delicious!
Next, I used whole wheat rotini, but feel free to use whatever pasta you like. I skipped the bechamel and added feta to the pasta, which made it salty and creamy. Again, feel free to use the cream sauce if you like. I did however keep the Greek yogurt/egg mixture on top. It was delicious! It makes the top super creamy. Mine looked a bit yellow ( too much eggs not enough yogurt), but it tasted great. Almost like ricotta in a lasagna. You can also add mozzarella to the top of this if you want. A little extra cheese never hurt everyone!
Another thing. I know I have sang the praises of San Martzano tomatoes before, but these babies are amazing. They give the sauce such an amazing flavor even if you only cook it for twenty minutes. This would also be a great freezer meal! Make double and freeze half. Here is the recipe I went by for Michael Symon's Pastitsio which was my inspiration.
In case you want to know how I made mine:
1. Chop and saute eggplant until tender ( about 6 minutes) then add canned tomatoes
2. Boil Pasta to packaged directions( 3 minutes shy since you will bake)
3. Mix 2 eggs,1 cup Greek yogurt, and cheese
4. Pour egg/yogurt mixture over pasta in a casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes on 350 degrees F.
5. Let baked pasta sit for 10 minutes to let juices reconstitute. Cut and eat!