pastitsio (cooking project – day 7)

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I’ve struck out three times.  First the Serbian leek cake, then the sweet potato cakes, and now the pastitsio. Read on and you’ll see what I mean.

Pastitsio (or pastichio) is like a Greek lasagna and very delicious if done right.  I wasn’t sure how a vegetarian version of the usually beef filled dish would turn out, but thought since the vegetarian cookbook had an entry for it, it was worth trying.  The recipe uses vegetarian meat crumbles to be cooked with tomato sauce and onion.  This mixture goes between two layers of cooked macaroni with a sprinkle of Parmesan, cinnamon and nutmeg to give it that unique Greek flavor.  Then you top it all off with a milk/egg mixture to hold it together and bake.

Everything worked out beautifully…until I overcooked it.  In my defense, the book did not specify a baking temperature, so I assumed it was to be set at 350° for the recommended 50-60 minutes (or until “bubbly”).  I checked the pastitsio at 45 minutes, and seeing as the dish was not yet “bubbly”, I cooked it for another 15 minutes, checking periodically.

After realizing I probably don’t know what it means to be “bubbly, and with my husband’s growling stomach getting louder, we finally took it out of the oven only to find that the noodles on top and on bottom had been cooked so long that they were back to their uncooked form.  Although the noodles were inedible, we were able to salvage some of the pastitsio by scraping off the top and bottom layers of noodles.  What was left was delicious and I can see where it would’ve been great if cooked correctly.  Therefore, I think the dish would get a “B” rating when it’s cooked correctly by a competent person.

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