Quick Pastitsio

You know how a craving starts out as something that just sounds good, quickly moves into an itch you can’t seem to scratch, and then makes its way to a tick causing your eye to twitch or walk with a limp?  Even though it’s still warm here in Cali, I just had to prepare some comfort food.   I had been really craving it lately and the craving was moving into the tick phase.  As soon as I saw this recipe in my binder, I knew it would put that tick to rest and my eye would finally stop twitching.  Let me tell you, it did not disappoint!  The only thing I’ll do different next time is add some fresh basil.  By the time the pasta came out of the oven the kids were starving and begging to eat, asking, “Oh Mommy, what is that smell?  It smells SO good in here.  Can we eat right now?  I can’t wait any more!”  I completely forgot to run outside and snip some basil.  This dish could easily be made vegetarian by subbing the meat for mushrooms, mushrooms and Japanese eggplant, mushrooms and artichoke hearts.  So many veggie options!  PS – Yum!  Reheat for lunch is just as good as dinner!

Ingredients:

8 oz uncooked penne (or any tube-shaped pasta)
Cooking spray
1 lb lean ground sirloin
1 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
5 cloves minced garlic
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbs all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (recipe called for fat-free, I used 2%)
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
7 oz Neufchâtel cream cheese
3/4 cup shredded parmesan or mozzarella
2 Tbs chopped fresh basil

Preparation:

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting fat and salt.  Drain.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.  Add beef to pan; saute 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble.  Remove beef from pan; drain.  Wipe pan clean with paper towels.  Add oil to pan; swirling to coat.  Add onion; saute 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic; saute 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add beef; sprinkle with salt.  Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently.  Stir in milk, tomatoes, and Neufchâtel, stirring until smooth; bring to a simmer.  Cook 2 minutes or until heated through.  Stir in pasta.

Preheat broiler.  Coat a 13×9 inch broiler-safe baking dish with cooking spray.  Spoon pasta mixture into dish, sprinkle with parmesan or mozzarella.  Broil 4 minutes or until golden.  Sprinkle with fresh chopped basil.

Serves 6 large helpings

Hands on time: 17 minutes; Total time: 40 minutes

Pastitsio 3

*Derived from Cooking Light
 


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