Blending spiced meat with a rich ricotta and feta cream sauce, and interlacing this all with pasta makes pastistio a fantastic special occasion dish.
The fact that you can make it in advance of your party–so you can spend your time with your guests, flitting about with a wine glass in your hand–is not bad either.
This gorgeous, flavourful casserole is perfect for a dinner party or a large celebration. Depending on how much food you have at the party, you can either cut it into very small pieces, or it will serve 10 generously for a main dish (with a salad on the side).
Like its Italian cousin, lasagna, pastistio is a bit of a labour investment, as it takes several steps and yes, several pots. The nice thing is that you can do the meat and/or white sauce a day or so in advance, so that’s one big step out of the way. And then truly, making the pasta and then assembling it isn’t a big deal at all. It will also sit nicely in your fridge, assembled, for up to a day before you serve it, so it really is a great dish to make for company. It keeps well and makes a large amount, so it is well worth the effort.
(Sadly, I don’t have great pictures of the final dish–my pictures of the dinner plate from the party itself were done quickly, in not-great light. It’s too bad, because it really is a delicious-looking dish.)
Adapted from All About Pasta & Noodles-Joy of Cooking
Yields 10 generous servings
Ribbons of pasta, fragarant spicy beef (or lamb), and a creamy sauce of ricotta and feta bring a new twist to comfort food.
(Note: There are several steps to this recipe’s preparation. You can make the meat sauce and/or the white sauce a few days in advance–just refrigerate and set aside. You can also prepare the whole casserole in advance, cover, and refrigerate, for up to a day.)
1 lb long, tubular pasta noodles such as bucatini (you can use spaghetti or linguine if you can’t find them)
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/4 tsp freshly grated, or ground nutmeg
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 large eggs, beaten
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 lb lean ground beef (or lamb)
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
14-oz can whole tomatoes, with juice, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/2 cup or Parmesan cheese
Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss with a tbsp of virgin olive oil and set aside.
To prepare the white sauce:
In a medium saucepan over low heat, blend the butter and the flour. Cook, stirring, until the mixture stops sizzling, about 3 minutes.
Whisk in the milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir frequently until well blended. Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 5 minutes.
(At this point, you can cover the white sauce and refrigerate for a day or two before assembling.)
To prepare the meat sauce:
In a medium stockpot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Cook the onion until it beings to soften, about 5 min. Add the ground meat and the garlic, and cook until the meat is no longer pink, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.
Stir in the tomatoes, red wine, tomato paste, cinnamon, marjoram, ground peppers, and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool slightly and stir in the minced parsley.
(at this point, you can cover and set the meat sauce in the fridge before assembling, for a day or so.)
To assemble the casserole:
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9 baking dish. Place pasta in one layer, then top with 1/2 of the meat sauce. Top with another layer of pasta, then top with the rest of the meat sauce. Top with a third layer of pasta, then cover with the white sauce. Top with grated cheese.
(At this point you can cover and refrigerate the casserole for up to one day).
Bake casserole until set and golden for about 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for about 15 minutes before cutting.
513 calories; 22.9g fat; 46.7g carbs; 27.4g protein; 2.8g fibre