Healthy Light Pastitso is another great casserole dish. I’ve often heard it referred to as the Greek version of lasagna, but after having tried it, I think people call it that because that is about as close a description as they can get. Pastitso is actually a dish consisting of layers of elbow macaroni, parmesan cheese and a spicy meat filling all held together with a rich cream sauce. Pastitso takes its name from the Italian word “pasticcio”, meaning hodgepodge; I guess this is in reference to the muddle of ingredients the dish contains. I have significantly reduced the amount of cholesterol normally found in this fabulous Greek dish, by replacing the eggs with an egg substitute.
Healthy Light Pastitso
- 1 medium bowl
- 1 9-inch square baking dish
- 1 large skillet
- 8 ounces whole wheat elbow macaroni
- ½ cup cholesterol free egg substitute (you can find these cartons in ALL supermarkets, usually right near the eggs)
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 can ‘no salt added’ tomato sauce (8 ounce)
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons unsalted butter or margarine
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1½ cups skim milk
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions (omitting the salt called for). Drain and transfer to a medium bowl; stir in the egg substitute and nutmeg.
- Lightly spray the bottom of a 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray and spread the pasta mixture over the bottom of the dish. set aside
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the lamb, onion and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat until lamb is no longer pink. stir in the tomato sauce, oregano, pepper and cinnamon. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, then spread over pasta in dish.
- melt the butter or margarine in the skillet. Add the flour and stir constantly for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk, still stirring constantly, until thickened (about 5 minutes). Spread over meat mixture in the dish; sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese and bake for 35 minutes.
To ensure the best results with your Healthy Light Pastitso, here are some valuable cooking tips and insights on common mistakes to avoid:
- Layering Perfection: When assembling the dish, make sure to evenly distribute the sauce, meat, and pasta layers. This ensures that each bite is packed with flavor and prevents any dry spots in the final dish.
- Don’t Overcook the Pasta: Cook the pasta just until al dente, as it will continue to cook slightly while baking. Overcooking the pasta can result in a mushy texture, so keep an eye on it to achieve the perfect balance of tenderness.
- Let It Rest: Once your Healthy Light Pastitso is baked to perfection, resist the temptation to dig in immediately. Allow it to cool for a few minutes before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together and makes it easier to cut and serve neat portions.
- Cheese on Top: For a golden and cheesy crust, sprinkle some grated Parmesan or your favorite cheese on top of the dish before baking. This adds an extra layer of indulgence and enhances the overall presentation.
- Adjust the Seasonings: Feel free to adjust the seasonings according to your personal taste preferences. Add more herbs, spices, or a touch of chili flakes if you prefer a bolder flavor profile. Remember, cooking is an art, and you have the freedom to make it your own!
The Best Ways To Serve And Enjoy Healthy Light Pastitso
Now that your Healthy Light Pastitso is ready to be enjoyed, let’s explore some delightful serving suggestions that will complement the flavors and elevate your dining experience.
- Recommended Sides: Pair your pastitso with a refreshing Greek salad consisting of cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, feta cheese, and Kalamata olives. The crispness of the salad provides a nice contrast to the creamy and comforting pastitso.
- Garnish with Fresh Herbs: Sprinkle some freshly chopped parsley or dill on top of your serving for a burst of freshness. The vibrant green hues will add visual appeal and a delightful aroma to the dish.
- Versatile Side Dishes: Serve your Healthy Light Pastitso alongside roasted vegetables such as eggplant, zucchini, or bell peppers. The charred edges and caramelized flavors of the roasted veggies complement the richness of the pastitso perfectly.
- Crusty Bread: Don’t forget to have some crusty bread on the side to mop up the tomato sauce and savor every last bit of flavor. The combination of the creamy layers and the bread’s texture creates a heavenly bite.
- Beverage Pairings: To balance the richness of the dish, pair your Healthy Light Pastitso with a crisp white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc or a light-bodied red wine such as a Pinot Noir. Alternatively, you can opt for a refreshing glass of iced herbal tea or homemade lemonade for a non-alcoholic option.
Can I make Healthy Light Pastitso ahead of time?
Absolutely! You can assemble the dish up to a day in advance and refrigerate it. When you’re ready to bake, simply add a few extra minutes to the cooking time to ensure it heats through. Leftovers can also be stored in the fridge for a few days.
Can I freeze Healthy Light Pastitso?
Yes, you can freeze the assembled, unbaked pastitso. Wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil before placing it in the freezer. When you’re ready to enjoy it, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and bake it as directed.
What can I substitute for ground meat in this recipe?
If you prefer a vegetarian version, you can substitute the ground meat with plant-based alternatives like lentils, tofu, or textured vegetable protein (TVP). Be sure to adjust the seasonings and cooking times accordingly.
Can I use a different type of pasta for Healthy Light Pastitso?
While traditional pastitso is made with penne pasta, you can experiment with other shapes like rigatoni, macaroni, or even whole wheat pasta for a healthier twist. Just ensure that the pasta is cooked al dente to maintain the desired texture.
How should I store any leftovers?
If you have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, cover the dish with foil and heat it in the oven at a low temperature until warmed through. Alternatively, you can reheat individual portions in the microwave.
Craving a taste of Greece without the guilt? Our Healthy Light Pastitso recipe is just what you need! Discover cooking tips, serving suggestions, and answers to FAQs that will help you achieve the perfect balance of flavors and textures. Join our food-loving community by sharing this recipe and subscribing to our blog for more delicious inspiration!