Fall is officially here, which means the return of comfort food. Although it's still hot here in Los Angeles, I'm ready to crank up the oven and get in the spirit of the season. Pastitsio is a Greek baked pasta dish that combines ground beef with layers of noodles in a béchamel sauce. This recipe is a vegetarian spin off from traditional Pastitsio and it was one of my favorite meals growing up. For this recipe I used a textured vegetable protein in place of the ground beef. Another healthy vegetarian meat substitute is mushrooms. Simply pulse mushrooms in the food processor to give them a ground beef like consistency.
Vegetarian Pastitsio (Greek Style Pasta)
6 cups cooked macaroni
1 lb textured vegetable protein (or use mushrooms & pulse in food processor)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Cook macaroni al dente, drain and toss with a touch of olive oil to keep it from sticking. Set aside.
Over medium heat, brown the textured vegetable protein and onion in a skillet with some olive oil. Turn off heat and stir in tomato paste, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
Lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl. Add the parmesan cheese, fresh ground nutmeg and stir to blend. Set aside.
In medium saucepan, combine mayonnaise and flour and stir until well blended. Gradually stir in milk. Cook over medium/low heat until thick, stirring constantly. Do not boil. When sauce has thickened remove from heat and gradually stir in the egg and cheese mixture. Combine the cream sauce with the macaroni and stir until noodles are evenly coated with cheese sauce.
Spray a 2 quart baking dish with olive oil spray and spoon 1/2 of the macaroni mixture into the bottom. Cover with the tomato/cinnamon mixture and then top with the remaining macaroni mixture.
Bake for 45 minutes or until set.