This simple Greek pastitsio knock-off (and I’m not claiming it’s authentic, people) is basically a deconstructed pastitsio in casserole form.
And it is downright, knock-your-socks-off delicious.
A lightened up, creamy sauce swirls around tender penne pasta and flavorful ground turkey or sirloin. Combined with the other gentle flavors (hints of nutmeg, tomatoes and garlic) and with just a touch of mozzarella cheese and fresh parsley, this dish reminded me of a kicked-up, unique and slightly Greek-influenced beef stroganoff.
Oh, and did I mention it’s quick? And easy?
We devoured this one. I couldn’t get enough of the creamy, flavorful sauce and fought for the right to the leftovers. Add this one immediately to your weeknight rotation. You won’t be disappointed!
- 12 ounces penne pasta
- 1 pound ground turkey or ground sirloin
- 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (from about 1 large onion)
- 1 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 8 ounces light cream cheese
- 2 cups milk, 1% of skim work great
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Coat a 9X13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. Preheat the broiler.
- In a large pot of lightly salted, boiling water, cook the penne pasta according to package directions.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat a large 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add beef or turkey to the pan with the diced onions and 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring to break up the meat into small pieces, until the meat is cooked through. Drain excess grease from the meat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, another minute or so. Sprinkle the flour over the meat mixture, stirring to combine, and cook for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Add the cream cheese in pieces, scattering it over the meat. Let it melt into the meat and stir to combine. Whisk or stir in the milk, nutmeg, 3/4 teaspoon salt and tomatoes. Stir to combine well and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook 5-6 minutes until the mixture is slightly thickened and is thoroughly heated through.
- Stir in the pasta and spoon the pasta mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese evenly over the pasta and broil for about 3-5 minutes (watching carefully so it doesn't burn!). Remove from the oven and sprinkle with parsley. Let it stand fora bout 5 minutes before serving.
Make-Ahead Instructions: Follow the recipe instructions. After the sauce simmers for 5-6 minutes, remove from heat and stir occasionally, until the sauce has cooled to room temperature. Stir the pasta into the cooled sauce. Spoon the pasta and sauce mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese evenly over the top. Cover the casserole with a double layer of aluminum foil and place inside a large resealable bag, if possible (if you don't have a jumbo-sized plastic bag, just make sure the edges of the aluminum foil are sealed well). Freeze for up to 2 months. To bake, place the frozen covered casserole in a 350 degree oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the foil and bake for another 45 minutes to an hour until bubbly and hot.