Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Rich Vegetarian Pastitsio with spinach

In an attempt to use up what was in my fridge: namely spinach, spring onions, home grown lettuce and a number of dairy products, I ended up making a Pastitsio. Pastitsio is a Greek baked pasta dish made with pasta, tomato based sauce (sometimes including meat) and a béchamel sauce. The dish originally comes from the Italian tradition of "pasticcio (di pasta)", literally medley, mess or scramble. It is so interesting how dishes are created with a hotch potch of ingredients.
Its not the prettiest plate of food oozing all over the place, but you won't be hungry after eating it I assure you. And if your on a diet, please, please don't look at the sauce ingredients - you'll pile on the pounds just reading it.
Pastitsio with spinach and feta
Serves 6 – 8
For the rich tomato sauce
1 onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
50g butter
2 x 400g cans plum tomatoes with juice
4 teaspoon sun dried tomato paste
1 generous teaspoon of dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
For the filling
225g dried penne
Salt and pepper to taste
Bunch of spring onions, sliced
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
250g spinach, roughly chopped
lettuce leaves (optional) roughly chopped
100g feta cheese, crumbled
For the sauce
100g feta cheese, crumbled
4 egg yolks
200g fromage frais
150g crème fraiche
For the rich tomato base
Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the onion and garlic and cook over a medium low heat for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and break them up, together with sun dried tomato paste and oregano. Simmer uncovered over low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce it thick and pulpy. Discard the oregano sprigs and season to taste.
For the base
Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain thoroughly, then toss with a little oil to prevent it from sticking and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large pan, add the garlic and fry for 5 minutes, then add the spring onion and spinach to the pan and cook until it wilts.
Add the sauce and feta to the pan, along with the pasta and mix well. Spoon into a lightly oiled deep baking dish.
For the sauce
Put the egg yolks, fromage frais, crème fraiche and feta into a food processor and process briefly until smooth; Or mash and blend in a bowl with a fork. Season to taste.
Pour the cream mixture over the pasta mixture and bake in the oven gas mark 5 for 30 – 40 minutes until golden and firm to the touch. Leave to stand for a few minutes before serving, accompanied by a crisp salad. This dish reheat well in the oven. Adapted from Good House Keeping.


  1. A georgous, tasty & special dish best enjoyed with your loved ones!

    Yummmmmmmmmmm,...very festive too!

  2. We had something very similar last night, my favourite type of food 'one pot'. It was blooming marvelous on the taste buds.

  3. Wow!! I am greek and have eaten a lot of pastitsio in my day. This one sounds wonderful. My mouth is watering just looking at the pictures and reading the ingredients. I will definintely be making this one! Thanks for sharing. I really love your blog. You have really great recipes!!!!!:)

  4. Oool, la la. Now that's what I'm talking about.

  5. Oh gosh, my mouth is watering!! I can smell it! xx

  6. Yummy! That looks like a rich, hearty meal. It's wonderful to cook with homegrown produce!

  7. Sophie,
    It certainly is a family dish - one to sit around the table and enjoy.

    I agree one pot meals are great, less washing too!

    Thanks Angela. Praise for a pastitsio from someone with Greek heritage. I am pleased!!
    and Thank so much for your kind words about my blog. It is most appreciated.

    I am glad you like, but it is soooooo rich.

    Thank you Karen.
    It is rich and full of calories...

    It sure is a 'rich, hearty meal'. You need to jog round the block, more than once to burn the calories thats for sure. The only vegetable, if thats what you want to call it, that was optional homegrown was my lettuce :(

  8. Gosh, you are some cook. that looks amazing. Just the thing for a rainy Scottish spring evening.

  9. I used to cook a similar dish when I had a houseful of hungry teenagers! I also remember eating it often on student holidays in Corfu many years ago.

  10. This sounds fabulous - real comfort food :D

  11. My mouth is watering... Any baked pasta dish is a winner in my book. Especially ones that use fromage frais!

  12. Thank you Lou.

    Thanks Kathy.
    It certainly is a dish for a big crowd. I am glad it brought back some memories for you.

    Thank you Rachel.
    It sure is!

    Thanks Monica.

  13. looks delicious and like it will keep feeding you for some time - I love these big pasta dishes with lots of leftovers

  14. Lovely comfort food Mangocheeks and who cares about the calories, says she who needs to lose weight after having a baby :)

  15. Jacqueline,
    Your weight is a good reason. Mine, I do eat a lot, but it truly is about the lack of exercise, esp since I've lost my allotment plot. May have to take up some kind of exercise regime, I have never been one to diet.

  16. Oh Johanna,
    sorry - nearly missed you there. Yes this did last us a few days. Reheated in the oven nicely, with a bit of foil over it to stop from burning and drying a little.

  17. I can't believe I've never even heard of a pastitsio. This looks SO delicious and just full of ingredients I love -- pasta, tomatoes, greens, doesn't get much better than that!


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