What I've Been Reading Instead of Cleaning My House

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Vegetable Pastitsio

I was eager to make this recipe because pastitsio is one of Nigel's favorite dishes (it's like a Greek lasagna). Like the others, this is from "One-Dish Vegetarian Meals" by Robin Robertson.

Vegetable Pastitsio

12 oz elbow macaroni
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium-size onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
One 12-oz package frozen vegetarian burger crumbles
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 cups tomato-based pasta sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
3/4 cup soft tofu
2 cups milk or soy milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or soy Parmesan cheese

Cook the macaroni in a large pot of salted boiling water, stirring occasionally, until it is al dente. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, burger crumbles, oregano, cinnamon, and wine and simmer to cook off some of the alcohol. Stir in the pasta sauce and parsley and cook over low heat for 10 minutes to blend the flavors.

While the sauce is cooking, combine the tofu, milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a blender or food processor, and blend until well combined.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly oil a 9x13-inch baking dish.

Spread half of the macaroni in the prepared dish and sprinkle with half of the cheese. Spread all of the tomato sauce over the top and layer the remaining macaroni over the tomato sauce. Spread the tofu mixture over the top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for 40 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned on top. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.

My notes: First off, let me just say that I don't know why this is called "Vegetable" Pastitsio because there really aren't any vegetables in it! I used more macaroni than the recipe called for (again, I just wanted to dump the whole bag in), which might've been a mistake because it was kind of overflowing in the 9x13 dish. I didn't have any red wine, so I just added water. All was going well into I got to the tofu part. I just want to say that two cups of milk (the only vegan substitute I had was Vanilla Almond Milk, so I used regular milk in this recipe) plus 3/4 cup of tofu does not equal something you can "spread" over anything. It was way too liquidy. I added more tofu and it was still sloshy. Also, since there are no eggs in the recipe, I was afraid that it wouldn't set and my delicious casserole would be swimming in goo. I added as much of the tofu mixture as I dared and let it go with that (besides, I had way too much macaroni and it would've spilled all over). I didn't have soy Parmesan, so I used regular grated Parmesan cheese. I added more nutmeg and cinnamon on the top (that's Nigel's favorite thing about this dish -- nutmeg and cinnamon in a main course!). Miraculously enough, the tofu mixture did set up beautifully and I was then mad at myself for not added more in. Nigel said that this recipe tasted just like the real thing. The kids weren't raving about it, but they don't like the real thing, either. The burger crumbles had an authentic ground beef texture to them, so that was surprisingly good (Alice-Grace thought it was real meat). This may turn into my preferred recipe for pastitsio because it's a lot simpler and faster to make than my old one.


Anonymous said...

I have an awesome mushroom/lentil-based "meat" recipe I use in place of ground beef... I've posted it to my FB wall, but I can send it to you... Middle "A" is fooled, Big "A" was at first, but still scarfs it down... And, "D" says it's a good pass... as do the Elders... makes great "veat"loaf and taco salad... I try to avoid soy, or anything GMO, as much as I can- scary stuff there...

Lois said...

Anonymous -- I'll have to get that recipe from you. I must admit I'm partial to tofu ever since studying Japanese in college. Those veggie crumbles contain egg and milk, so they kind of defeat my purpose.