Mmmmm, pastistio! One of my YiaYia’s most fantastic Greek dishes she makes! I grew up with it, I ate it often and I love it! I have never tried to make it myself until this Father’s day weekend but of course I wanted to put my own healthier twist on it! People gave me slack for it and said why even bother? Afterall, it is supposed to be indulgent and rich! Traditionally, it calls for ground beef and white flour noodles. I used quinoa/brown rice noodles and ground turkey meat instead. That is her and I cooking it together yesterday in the picture so yes she approved of the changes BUT nothing compares to the real thing-this I am aware!! My YiaYia is 92 years old! Can you believe it??!!
Here goes the recipe! Everything is hers except the meat and noodles that I used!
Step 1: Cook your meat! Add 2.5 lbs of ground turkey or ground beef in a large skillet with 1 med to large chopped onion, 2 tsp minced garlic or 3 cloves, generously season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano. Let it cook through about 20 min-stirring often to break the meat apart into little crumbles.
Step 2: Add 1 small can of tomato paste and 2 cups of water to the meat mixture and continue to cook until most of the liquid is absorbed. Leave on med heat and let it simmer while you cook the pasta and make the cream sauce. At this point if you have fresh parsley add a handful and also a pinch or so if cinnamon and red pepper flakes to add some spice but not too much.
Step 3: Cook 1.5 lbs of pasta according to directions-I used quinoa/brown rice spiral noodles from Trader Joe’s.
Step 4: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
Step 5: Cream sauce (Bechamel sauce)-this is where all the delicious trouble starts! Take 1/4 cup or so of oil-I used a mixture of coconut oil, canola oil and evoo for this and place it in a med heat larger skillet. Add 1/4 c butter to skillet. Add flour (I used Millet flour) by the spoonful to the oil/butter stirring to make a thicker rue-you will add about 1 cup by the time it is thick enough. Add milk about 2 cups slowly while stirring and still trying to form the sauce. If at any point the sauce is not thickening add a touch more flour. Add 1 small can evaporated milk and stir, stir and stir some more until mixture is thick and melted all together. Then turn off heat and put half of the sauce into a separate bowl-place aside.
Step 6: Stir the drained pasta into the sauce that you left in the skillet until coated. Beat 2 eggs and add into the other half of the sauce you placed aside in the bowl-stir well (this will be the topping of the pastistio)
Step 7: In a greased 8 x 11 pan add a layer of noodles (half of them) to the bottom of the pan. Add the meat mixture on top then add the rest of the noodles on top of the meat. Spread each layer and pat down slightly firmly. Next, add the Cream sauce that you added the eggs to on top and spread to cover. Lastly, top with nutmeg.
Ahhhh, almost done!! The picture above is it about to go in the oven.
Cook uncovered on 350 for 40 to 45 min-check to see when it starts to brown on top and then it is done!! Let it cool and settle before cutting and serving.
I hope you try this and enjoy the process! It is labor intense but worth it!!! My dad loved it and asked for seconds, everyone was happy and felt a little lighter compared to the traditional way of course! Maybe it was the fact that we didn’t also have it with YiaYia’s lamb, red potatoes, spinach pie, salad and bread too! Oh my.
xoxo, A and YiaYia!