Easy Pastitsio



We live in a neighborhood where we are fortunate to know many of our neighbors. This brings us in and out of each other's houses in ways not typical of most American communities. We freely borrow ladders and wheel barrows, baby-sit pets, share eggs and cups of sugar and fruit from overly prolific trees. When our next-door neighbors built a modern privacy fence, we asked that they space the slats on our side. "How else are we going to spy on you?"

Last night they held a dinner for 12, being the only house on the block with the proper china and crystal to accommodate such a crowd. Everybody contributed. There was leg of lamb roasted in garlic and lemon, stewed whole tomatoes with olive oil and basil, salad, homemade brown-rice bread, twice baked potatoes, pastitsio (our contribution along with the bread) and flourless chocolate cake with rasberry ganache, ouzo and wine. Lots and lots of wine. We are blessed to have these wonderful people and cooks in our lives.

The pastitsio recipe came from Angels and Friends Favorite Recipes, first published by the Angels of Easter Seal in Youngstown, Ohio in 1981. The cookbook is a timepiece, a record of how American foods and immigrant cultures combined in mid-century Midwestern kitchens. Inside you'll find recipes for classics like chicken ala king, noodles and beef casserole, Swiss chicken bake, baked brussel sprouts and port aspic, among others.

Pastitsio, which is a kind of Greek lasagna, was provided by Mrs. Daniel Rossi. I used the bechemel sauce from the moussaka recipe, no attribution, but added a hint of garlic.

Easy Pastitsio with some amendments

1 lb rigatoni noodles

2 cups plus 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese

Bechemel sauce

1 quart milk (I used skim)

1 clove garlic

1/2 cup butter

4 eggs, beaten

4 Tbs cornstarch


Cook noodles in salted water. While noodles are cooking make the bechemel by heating the milk and garlic (don't boil) until hot. Add butter. Add well-beaten eggs and cornstarch to heated milk mixture, slowly and cook until thick. Drain noodles. Combine with bechemel sauce and cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. (I also added a cup of baby spinach for color.) Top with remaining cheese.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes, until brown.


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