Thursday, May 15, 2014

Papa's Pastitsio

A Lighter Layered Lasagna-like Bake
Let's face it: lasagnas can be intimidating! As well they should be. Usually so loaded with fat they have become a comic book joke! However they can also bring back some great memories to go along with that ooey-gooey oiliness. How about a Pastitsio (PAH – sissy – oh)? Aside from never, ever hearing of one, would it be any leaner? Well we can make it that way! We create every time we are cooking!

So slave will just call it a “Lasagna – like” dish. It is layered with pasta, meat sauce, cheese, even spinach! By watching what goes into the dish, we have a better control of what goes into our bodies! For example: the sauce used has 35% less calories than normal and 0 grams of fat. By itself offers a third of the daily vegetable needs. The ricotta used is fat free! Instead of a whole egg, just use the white part. Each is a tiny step, but it adds up.

3 cups dried medium noodles (6 ounces or ½ a package) slave used noodles but it could be just about any type you choose!

1 lbs. ground beef
1 23oz jar light Italian sauce
1 small yellow onion chopped fine
2 cloves garlic minced
2 teaspoons dried basil, crushed
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

1 15oz carton fat free ricotta cheese (or 1½ cups)
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 8oz package shredded Italian blend cheeses (2 cups)

1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, cooked & well drained

½ cup shredded low fat cheddar cheese (2 ounces)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 2-quart casserole or a 2-quart square baking dish; set aside.

Microwave the frozen chopped spinach according to box, then drain well and press with paper towels before use.

Cook noodles according to package directions; drain and set aside.

Meat mixture:
Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook beef until brown. Transfer to a big paper towel lined bowl.
Add the onions to the hot skillet and let cook until they start to turn transparent. Add the garlic, sauce, and spices. Stir as it heats.
Then return the drained meat to the skillet. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 – 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl stir together the ricotta cheese, 1 lightly beaten egg white, and 1 cup of the Italian blend cheeses. (about ½ of the package)

In prepared casserole or baking dish:
layer half of the noodles (about 2 cups),
half of the meat mixture (about 1½ cups),
Spoon ½ ricotta cheese in large dollops. (about 1 cup),
next layer with all of the spinach

 Top with the remaining meat mixture
spread the last of the noodles over that

Cover and chill remaining cream cheese mixture until needed.

Cover casserole with lightly greased foil spray the side against the food!
Bake in 350 degree oven about 45 minutes or until heated through. Uncover;
Top with remaining cream cheese mixture.
Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.
Return to oven, uncovered, about 10 minutes more or until cheese is melted.

Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Slave is not going to tell you that this tastes just like lasagna. Slave does not lie. In no way is it bland. It does have a great, cleaner, Italian taste. Quite frankly, we are never going to get healthier buy eating the fat loaded food we have been taught to enjoy. We need to retrain our tastes. Give this a try. It is good, just not greasy.
If it looks too hard, try this: for the meat sauce, use Manwich. Although be sure to read how much salt is in that stuff! For the cheese: use fat free cottage cheese that has been well drained! If you like throw in some mushrooms.

Happy to be serving my Master Indy,

To satisfy and restore.
To nourish, support and maintain.
To gratify, spoil, comfort and please,
to nurture, assist, and sustain
..I cook!

Please buy slave's cookbook:

The Little Black Book of Indiscreet Recipes by Dan White via @amazon

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