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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Pastitsio

 

Pastitsio (2)

Lately, I’ve been testing a couple of Greek Pastitsio recipes. Pastitsio, Greek-style lasagna is so delicious. Instead of just making one pan, It’s just as easy to make two. You can bet they’ll both get eaten.

Zitoni Lunghi a long tube-shaped pasta used specifically for Pastitsio. I used Bucatini in this dish because it is readily available at local grocery stores. I’d recently visited an International market, about 30 minutes from my home, and found the traditional pasta for this dish (pictures below).

I’m also going to make a few changes to this dish. As you know ground lamb is traditional for this dish. For my Pastitsio, I’ll be making a Bolognese-style sauce filled with vegetables, ground veal, lean ground sirloin, sweet Italian sausage, and a variety of Mediterranean spices. This is going to be a really hearty meat sauce.

Making Pastitsio is a labor of love and usually made on special occasions. There are three components to this dish, first the pasta, the meat sauce, and finally the Bechamel.

Let’s get started.

Pastitsio

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Oregano

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Pastitsio

Pastitsio (2)

 

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes
Yields: 18 servings
Equipment: 6-quart saucepot, 6-quart braising pot with a lid (Dutch oven) 3-quart saucepot, 2-9 x 11 deep-sided ceramic baking dishes, 10-cup food processor, 2 medium-size mixing bowls, 2 large mixing bowls, large slotted spoon, whisk, tongs

Ingredients For Meat Sauce:
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large yellow onion, processed
1 red bell pepper, processed
1 yellow bell pepper, processed
1 Fresno chili, seeded and processed
1 Poblano pepper, seeded and processed
1 medium-size carrot, peeled diced and processed
5 cloves of garlic, processed
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 pound of lean ground beef
2 pounds of ground veal
1 cup of Cabernet Sauvignon
1 1/2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons of fresh oregano leaves
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes with their juice
1 stick of unsalted butter, reserve some for greasing the baking dish

Ingredients For Bechamel Sauce:
2 cups of whole milk
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
2 sticks of unsalted butter
4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1/2 a teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 a teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
3 cups of grated Pecorino cheese (1 1/2 cups for the Bechamel, 1 cup to toss with the pasta, 1/2 a cup for the topping)
2 extra-large beaten eggs
1 cup of Greek yogurt, room temperature
2 tablespoons of finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley plus extra for garnish
2 pounds of Zitoni Lunghi (300 Ziti), substitute ziti

Directions:
Start with grating the cheese. Dice up the Pecorino cheese and add it to a food processor. Pulse until cheese is processed, as seen in the pictures above. Transfer the grated cheese to a small plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Set aside.

Next, is to prep all the vegetables.
First, remove all the seeds from all the peppers including the Fresno chili, then roughly chop. Set aside. Peel and roughly chop the garlic and onion, set aside. Peel and chop the carrot into 1 1/2-inch dice, set aside. Clean then quarter the mushrooms.

Start by processing the mushrooms, then the onions and garlic together, next, the diced carrots, and finally all the peppers. Transfer the processed vegetables to a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

In a 6-quart braising pot (Dutch oven) over medium-high heat add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the sweet Italian sausage. Break up the sausage with the back of a wooden spoon. Next, add the ground sirloin and ground veal. Stirring occasionally, allowing all the meat to brown until there is no longer any pink, around 20 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon to drain any excess fat, transfer the cooked meat to a large mixing bowl and set aside. Discard any fat left in the pot.

Using the same pot over medium heat add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. To the oil add the dried oregano, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, and cayenne pepper, allowing the spices to *bloom and become fragrant about 1 minute. Next, add the processed vegetables Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, stir to combine. Tun the heat up to medium-high, add the wine. Allow the wine to come up to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the wine reduces by half, 5 minutes.

Adjust the heat to medium, add the browned meat back into the pot, stir to combine. Add the crushed tomatoes with their juice. Stirring occasionally, simmer for another 45 minutes. Halfway through taste for seasoning. This is the perfect time to add a light sprinkling of Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper if needed. Once the sauce is done finish by adding fresh oregano and thyme leaves, stir to combine. Turn the heat off and cover to keep warm.

The next step is to *scald the milk/cream mixture.
In a 3-quart saucepot over medium heat bring the milk and heavy cream to just below the boiling point.

Making the *roux for the Bechamel sauce.
In a 6-quart pot over medium heat melt 1/2 a stick of butter. Add in the all-purpose flour vigorously whisking until the mixture becomes a paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don’t let it brown, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the scalded milk/cream mixture to the *roux continuously whisking. Bring to a boil. Switch to a wooden spoon, add Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg. Lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more or until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat.

Add 1 full ladle of the meat sauce, stir to combine. Allow the Bechame sauce to cool completely.

Once the Bechamel has cooled, add the beaten eggs, the room temperature Greek yogurt, and 1 1/2 cups of freshly grated Pecorino cheese, whisk to combine. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the Ziti (Zitoni) pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta really well.

Well, that’s the last of the components for this dish. Now it’s time to put this bad boy together.

Use half a stick of butter to butter both baking dishes, sides included.

For the first layer, divide and arrange the hot pasta (as seen in the picture above) equally between the two buttered baking dishes. Add 4 tablespoons of softened butter to the pasta. Using a pair of tongs, gently toss allowing the butter to coat all the pasta. Next, add the Pecorino cheese, once again, gently toss to coat. Repeat for the second baking dish.

For the second layer, (equally, divide) ladle the Bolognese sauce over the pasta.

For the final layer, (equally, divide) ladle the Bechamel sauce over the Bolognese.

Sprinkle a good helping of the freshly grated Pecorino cheese over the top of each dish. Transfer the baking dishes to the middle rack, in the oven, and bake for 1 hour until bubbly and the top forms a golden-brown crust.

Sprinkle freshly chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley over the top.

Allow the Pastitsio to rest for at least 15 to 20 minutes to set before cutting.

Freezing Baked Pastitsio:
Let cool completely, wrap in foil, then again in plastic wrap really tightly. Label and date them so you can have Pastitsio any time you like. When you ready, place a pan into the frig to thaw overnight. Next, remove the foil and plastic wrap. Take a new piece of foil and lightly spray, the dull side, with a non-stick cooking spray.  This will prevent the cheese topping from sticking to the foil. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees F. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until hot all the way through. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until bubbly and the Bechamel top is lightly golden.

*Bloom is the process of gently frying them in oil and is a quick way to deepen their flavor.
*Roux is a mixture of fat (especially butter) and flour used in making sauces.
*Scalded milk is milk heated to just under the boiling point. This happens when you see small bubbles appear around the inner rim of the pot.

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Stuffed Grape Leaves With Egg-Lemon Sauce

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After visiting the International Food Club, here in Orlando, I came away with a jar grape leaves. I knew right then that I’d be making the traditional Stuffed Grape Leaves With Egg-Lemon Sauce.

Before making this dish, I did speak to a few people of Greek descent what they used in their filling. I wanted to know how much their recipes varied when it came to this recipe. I found out they were all pretty much the same.

Next, I did a little research, I wanted it to be as authentic as possible. What I found was, there was one difference from those I spoke to and the online recipes which called for adding some type of nuts to the filling. I decided to make this recipe as authentic as possible giving the option of adding chopped pine nuts or walnuts. That being said, this dish is definitely a labor of love. 😊

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Flat Leaf Italian Parsley

Fresh Mint Leaves

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White Wine And Unsalted Chicken Broth

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Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 to 50 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: 6-quart Dutch oven pot with a tight-fitting lid, medium-size mixing bowl, large mixing bowl, 12-inch sauté pan

Ingredients:
1/3 cup of olive oil
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil (1 tablespoon for sautéeing the onions)
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup of chopped green onions
1 pound of lean ground sirloin (substitute ground lamb)
1/2 cup long-grain rice, (Jasmine) uncooked
3 cups unsalted chicken broth (plus 1-10 3/4-ounce can for EggLemon Sauce)
1/2 cup dry white wine (Chardonnay)
2 tablespoons of pine nuts (optional)
2 tablespoons of fresh dill (1/2 the amount if dried)
2 tablespoons of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley (1/2 the amount if dried)
1 tablespoon of fresh mint (1/2 the amount if dried))
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper
1 16-ounce jar of grape leaves, drained and rinsed
7 whole lemons (for both the grape leaves, egg-lemon sauce, plus 1 to 2 lemons for garnish)

Ingredients For The Liquids: 
3 cups unsalted chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine (Chardonnay)
3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoon of olive oil

Ingredients: Egg-Lemon Sauce (Avgolemono Sauce)
4 egg yolks (substitute “Egg Beaters”)
1-10 3/4-ounce can of unsalted chicken broth
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
4 lemons, juiced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour

Directions: Grape Leaves:
The very first step is to rinse the long grain rice of any excess starch. Place 1 cup of Jasmine rice into a large bowl and cover with water, 3 cups. Let the rice sit until the water turns cloudy. Drain the water and repeat this process four times until the water remains clear. Drain the rice into a large bowl, set aside

Line a large plate with a paper towel. Remove the grape leaves from the jar, separating them carefully, removing the hard stem from each leaf. Rinse each one at a time really well to remove any and all brine.

Let the excess water drain onto the paper towel, patting dry the top of each one of the leaves before transferring them to a large bowl. The imperfect and/or smaller leaves, I used to line the bottom of the pot. This will stop the grape leaves from having direct contact with the bottom of the pot and ensure they will not burn.

Note: The imperfect and/or smaller leaves, use to line the bottom of the greased pot. This will stop the grape leaves from having direct contact with the bottom of the pot and ensure they won’t burn.

In the Dutch oven, on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil. Add diced onions and sliced green onions sauté until just until soft, 2 to 3 minutes.

Next, add the ground sirloin to the pot. Using the back of a wooden spoon, break up the meat. Season with Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Continue cooking until the meat is brown and cooked through, 10 minutes. Add the uncooked rice and combine. Transfer to the bowl holding the uncooked rice.

Next, for the pine nuts (optional) and herbs. Add chopped mint, dill, and flat-leaf Italian parsley to the meat and rice mixture, stir to combine. Allow the filling to cool before stuffing the grape leaves.

Tip: One important thing to remember is, you want to stuff the leaves fairly tight but not too tight. The rice is still going to cook in the next step, that said, the rice may expand a bit more and you don’t want the grape leaves to break or to come apart while cooking.

Lay a plastic baggie down on a cutting board. Place a leaf, shiny side down. Add a heaping teaspoon of filling to the bottom portion of each leaf. Next, bring the bottom of the leaf up over the filling then folded in each side and continued to roll the rest of the leaf. Similar to if you were rolling up a mini burrito.

Grease the bottom of the Dutch oven with the remaining grapeseed oil. Line the bottom of the pot with the smaller-imperfect grape leaves. Place the stuffed grape leaves in a circular pattern into the pot. There will be two layers of stuffed grape leaves when finished.

In a measuring cup, add fresh lemon juice, olive oil, dry white wine, unsalted chicken broth, and mix. Pour this liquid over the grape leaves.

Before placing the lid onto the pot, place a heavy plate, upside down on top of the stuffed grape leaves to prevent the leaves from unrolling. On medium heat, bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove the covered pot from the heat and set aside. Star the Egg-Lemon sauce.

Directions For Egg-Lemon Sauce, Avgolemono Sauce:
In a medium-size bowl lightly beat 4 egg yolks with 1/2 the can of unsalted chicken broth. In another bowl add the juice of 4 lemons with the remaining chicken broth and Kosher salt, stir.

On medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a small saucepan. Add the 2 heaping tablespoons of all-purpose flour whisking to form a *roux and light blond in color. Slowly add the lemon juice/chicken brother mixture, continuously whisking until thick and smooth.

Remove from heat for, around 2 minutes, or until mixture has cooled down enough to add the egg yolk mixture. You DO NOT want the eggs to scramble. You want a smooth creamy sauce.

Gradually add the beaten egg yolk mixture continuously whisking until smooth.

Arrange the Stuffed Grape Leaves on a large serving platter along with the Egg-Lemon Sauce. Garnish with lemon slices.

*Roux is a mixture of fat (especially butter) and flour used in making sauces.

 

International Food Club, Orlando, Florida

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Lombardi’s, Orlando’s Fresh Seafood Market

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Orlando’s fish market is one I frequently visit.  It’s been in the area for many years and the staff is professional and know seafood. Located at 1888 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, Florida. 32789. You can also visit them at www.lombardis.com for hours of operation and directions.

If your entertaining or just making dinner for the family, and want the freshest seafood available, visit Lombardi’s Seafood. Here’s a peek at what they have to offer.

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