Monday, June 13, 2016

Greek Pastitsio {Layered Greek Ziti}

Although I am part Italian I have to say Italian food is probably my least favorite type of food to make. Not quite sure why? I feel like a traitor to my own ancestors. I don’t know if it’s the lack of variety in Italian food, or it is hard to have enough flavor for me. Either way, I spent last Sunday racking my brain for a new, and flavorful Italian dish I could make for dinner. Well, I ended up going with a Greek version (I know, still a traitor ;) of baked ziti dish and it was a huge hit! The thing I loved about this recipe was it had everything I love about Italian food in one dish. I love mixing my white and red sauces over pasta, and this Greek Pastitios has an alfredo base with a thick, hearty marinara sauce on top. Covered in a bunch of cheese and the whole combination was fantastic! Yes, maybe not low in calories but if you serve with whole wheat noodles, use the lowfat milk instead of a cream base, and you have a recipe that is a perfect 10 in my book. If your honey loves Italian food, this would make for a great Father’s Day meal on Sunday. Hope you enjoy!

Greek Pastastito

16 oz. ziti or penne pasta

Marinara Sauce:
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef 
4 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
2 1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
2 tsp. salt

Alfredo Sauce:
3 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. flour
3 cups milk (lowfat is okay but you could use half & half if you want it more rich)
1 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1-1 1/3 tsp. salt

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
Fresh parsley (or mint), chopped (for garnish)

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
Fresh parsley (or mint), chopped (for garnish)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta noodles and continue to boil until al dente (don’t over cook because they will continue to cook in the baking dish). Once the noodles are cooked, drain them and place them in a 9x13 baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

For the red sauce, mince the onion and place in a large skillet or sauté pan with some olive oil. Saute the onions until they begin to soften. Add the ground beef and cook until the hamburger is browned and broken into small pieces with the onion. Add the garlic cloves, tomato sauce and seasonings. Let the sauce simmer on low heat while you prepare the alfredo sauce.

To save on cleaning another dish, use the emptied out noodle pot for the alfredo sauce. Or, cook in another sauté pan. Bring the pan to medium-high heat and add the butter and flour. Whisk until the butter melts. Turn the heat down slightly and add the milk. Continue to whisk until smooth and the sauce is slightly thick. Add the seasonings and parmesan cheese and continue to stir the alfredo sauce until smooth. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Pour the cooked alfredo into the baking dish with the cooked noodles. Toss until all the noodles are coated. Over the noodles, spread the marinara sauce. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top of the sauce. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top of the cheese and then the parsley (for garnish). Bake the dish for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and lightly golden brown.

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