Geek Pastitsio ‡

Ordinary Greek Pastitsio is made with butter, carb-ridden pasta, and a salty cream sauce, then baked. I love it, but fear the effects on my girth, glucose count, and blood pressure. On March 6th, 2012, I decided to try making it with a little less fat, fewer digestible carbs, and less salt. The result was very positive, and certainly good enough for me to repeat whenever the Greek muse favors the ambience. You can make it with turkey (least fat), lamb (preferred), or beef (also does nicely); when you do, use tarragon with turkey, rosemary with lamb, and mint with beef. Since the dish is not quite classic Greek in style, its appellation was abridged. Perhaps the Geek appelation, though, is too severe a truncation for this wonderful, healthier dish.

  • 4 oz lower G. I. pasta
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup nonfat milk
  • 1/3 cup grated Asiago cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 lb ground turkey, lamb, or beef, lean
  • ½ cup onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic purée
  • 1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp tomato bouillon powder
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon, rosemary, or mint leaves
  • ½ tsp powdered cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ cups nonfat milk
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 tsp dry onion soup mix
  • 5 tbsp gravy flour (e.g. Wondra®)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup Asiago cheese

Cook the pasta per package instructions, drain, and return to pan. Add in the olive oil, milk, Asiago, and egg, stir, and set aside.

In a large saucepan, cook the meat, whichever is chosen, with the onions and garlic until it loses its pinkness and the onion and garlic are softened. Remove from the heat, stir in the tomato sauce, tomato bouillon, herbs, and pepper; set aside.

In another saucepan, add the milk, wine, dry soup mix, and flour. Whisk the mixture to remove any lumps, bring to a simmer, and let cook, whisking all the while, until the floury taste subsides. Remove from the heat. Beat the egg in a small bowl, add it to the warm mixture, stirring vigorously until smooth. Likewise blend in the remaining Asiago cheese.

Layer the pasta in a greased 9” × 9” baking dish and then layer the meat on top. Pour the cream sauce evenly over the top of this.

Bake, uncovered, in a 350°F oven for about 40 minutes, until hot and lightly browned.