Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Baked Spaghetti Pastitsio

Sometimes as a mom, we have those collective moments when time just seems to have gotten away from us.
I had that happen recently. It gives you pause and I recall actually shaking my head and wondering out loud-where had the time gone. 

Last Saturday we celebrated my third child, McKinley Paige, turning 17. It seems like yesterday, and I know that's cliche, that we were laughing hysterically while watching her older brother push her down the backyard grassy hill in a little peddle car, with her little head bobbing because of all the grassy bumps. She wanted to go again, and again and again. We laughed every time, and to this day, 15 years later that memory still brings a smile to my face.

No one said though, when I was having babies how hard it would be to watch them grow up. Oh sure, they told us how hard it was to "raise" them, guide them, control them and reprimand them, but not how heart-breakingly hard it was to just have them grow up....

Maybe I'm just too sentimental.

So, I went ahead and prepared her favorite meal for her birthday, and for this child that is Spaghetti. Not so tough, I can make a mean Sauce any day. Of course making enough for 9 people meant that I knew I was going to have some leftover. What I didn't plan on was having a big bowl of spaghetti noodles left. I guess making 3 boxes was a little overboard. I mean we did have garlic bread and a big salad.

Anyway, 2 days later I was still trying to figure out what to do with all these noodles and it came to me. I love Greek Pastitsio, but that is normally made with Penne. I made it with the Spaghetti and I think I like it that way better, it's not so densely pasta-ly.

Pastitsio consists of luscious layers of seasoned ground beef, pasta, and a creamy bechamel sauce baked to perfection. This is Greek comfort food at its finest. So my riff on it made it an easy weeknight meal. I used cooked spaghetti noodles, Meat sauce I had made, cheese and topped it with a Creamy Bechamel (basic white) sauce

The family loved it as well. It comes out beautifully creamy because of the Bechamel topping it (I added some Parmesan to that as well-upping it's creaminess).



12 oz. of cooked Spaghetti noodles
2 eggs
1 cup of cottage cheese or ricotta cheese or even sour cream
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
3 cups of prepared meat sauce or a jar of your favorite sauce (woo-even easier)
2 cups of shredded cheese, I used a mix of Mozzarella and cheddar
2 tbsp of butter
2 tbsp of flour
2 cups of milk
1/2 cup of Parmesan
Pinch of Nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste

  1. Spray a 9 x 11 deep casserole dish with non-stick spray. Preheat oven to 350F. 
  2. In a large bowl whisk eggs, cottage cheese and Parmesan cheese until blended. Toss pasta with it and spread in the casserole dish. 
  3. Sprinkle pasta with one cup of the shredded cheese. 
  4. Spread the meat sauce over, covering the pasta evenly. Sprinkle the meat sauce with the remaining cup of shredded cheese. 
  5. In a medium sauce pan melt the butter and whisk in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk and heat, stirring, until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the remaining Parmesan cheese. Stir in Nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  6. Pour this white sauce evenly over the meat sauce and cheese. 
  7. Bake in the preheated oven about 40 minutes, until bubbly around the edges and heated through. 
  8. Let set 5-10 minutes before serving, it's easier to cut and serve. Enjoy!