28.05.2020
You can use WP menu builder to build menus

14.04.2020

No ratings yet
6

A very different, plant-based version of the famous Greek pasta bake called pastitsio, made with lentils and mushrooms instead of minced meat, and topped with a super easy oat milk and semolina bechamel.

Pastitsio (Greek Pasta Bake) with Lentil and Mushroom Sauce, and Oat Milk Bechamel www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: A ¾ view of the baking dish with the cooked pastitsio. A few slices are missing so one can see the layers of pasta and lentil sauce inside the dish.

It’s been a while since I created this recipe. About a year in fact. I first developed it last year for a client and it was posted on their website, but for some reason I never got around to posting it here. Well, the time has come – it is the start of Greek Orthodox holy week after all, and this is a great dish for anyone fasting. But regardless of Lent, this recipe deserves a place on my blog, that’s for sure.

So, have you heard of pastitsio before? If you haven’t, and you are a meat eater, you should go check it out. If you don’t eat meat however, stay with me, for I have created a pretty good alternative – if I may say so myself. It’s not the same, and I hate it when plant-based alternatives to certain foods are “sold” to us with phrases such as “you won’t know the difference”. You will know the difference; you almost always do. That doesn’t mean the alternative isn’t just as delicious! For me such descriptions are doing the new dish a disservice as they’re elevating expectations to an unrealistic level. Then you try it and your first thought is “this isn’t (insert x, y, z here)”. When it could be “hey this is tasty”. Take mozzarella for example. I tried making a vegan mozzarella. Everyone in the recipe comments was saying how brilliant and close to the real thing it was. Nope. It wasn’t anything like the real thing. So to begin with I was disappointed. Then I realized that although it wasn’t mozz, it was actually pretty good. But if you do that to someone who isn’t open minded about replacing animal with plant products, you’ve lost them. Anyway, I’m rambling.

Pastitsio (Greek Pasta Bake) with Lentil and Mushroom Sauce, and Oat Milk Bechamel www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: An overhead view of a pan with lentil and mushroom sauce, a colander with drained pasta and a bowl with bechamel sauce. A few broken rusks are also on the wooden surface next to the pan.

Back to the pastitsio. I would have named it something else but the dish actually gets its name from the type of pasta used. It’s a very thick spaghetti with a hole in the middle, a bit like bucatini (although I think it’s even thicker than bucatini). If you can find pastitsio pasta (maybe in a Greek deli?) use that, otherwise bucatini works just fine. The sauce is made using a lentil and mushroom base, and lots of yummy spices and umami-filled flavourings (think soy sauce, garlic paste etc). The bechamel is a deliciously creamy concoction made with oat milk and semolina, then flavoured with nutritional yeast and other good stuff. It’s much easier than classic bechamel too, as you don’t have to worry about making a roux and getting lumps in your sauce.

Pastitsio (Greek Pasta Bake) with Lentil and Mushroom Sauce, and Oat Milk Bechamel www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: A slice of pastitsio on a pretty plate sitting on a chopping board. A fork lies next to the slice on the plate.

I’d love to say this is a quick dish to prepare, but I would be lying. And I have never lied to you guys. It is easy, but it isn’t quick. There are a lot of stages BUT, you can do some of them the day before, and as I said, they aren’t difficult. So if you feel like spending some time pottering around the kitchen this is a great option. If you’re looking for a quick fix I suggest you look at my other pasta dishes and save this for another day. I do hope you try it though.

Either way, I would love to hear from you guys. Sometimes it feels like I’m talking into a black hole of nothingness, so it’s always great when I get messages or comments. You know where to find me!

Pastitsio (Greek Pasta Bake) with Lentil and Mushroom Sauce, and Oat Milk Bechamel www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: A closer ¾ view of the baking dish with the cooked pastitsio. A few slices are missing so one can see the layers of pasta and lentil sauce inside the dish.

Ingredients

For the bechamel
100 gr fine semolina
30 gr corn starch (corn flour in the UK)
1 lt oat milk (or other plant milk)
1/4 c (4 Tbs) nutritional yeast
2 tsp salt
1 tsp yellow mustard
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp white pepper, freshly ground

For the sauce
250 gr brown lentils, boiled until quite soft and drained well (weight after boiling is about 630 gr) (if you use pre-cooked go with the second measurement)
3 Tbs tomato paste
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs garlic paste
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 ½ tsp cumin
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cloves, powdered
1 bay leaf, large
2 Tbs olive oil
100 gr onion, finely chopped
250 gr brown mushrooms, finely chopped
400 gr tinned tomatoes, chopped (incl. juices)
1/2 tin (from the tomatoes) water

For the pastitsio pasta bake
500 gr pastitsio pasta (or bucatini)
salt for boiling pasta
2 + 1 tsp olive oil
3 Tbs panko or melba toast whizzed into a fine crumb in the food processor (vegan friendly if desired)
1 tsp thyme, dried

Step 1

For the bechamel: Whisk the semolina, corn starch and oat milk in a 4.5 lt saucepan. Heat over medium while whisking continuously until it boils and thickens well. Add the nutritional yeast, salt, mustard, nutmeg and white pepper, stir well and set aside to cool and thicken further.

Step 2

For the sauce: Use a potato masher to press down twice on the boiled and drained lentils, so you mash some of them but not all. Set aside.

Step 3

Combine the tomato paste, balsamic, soy sauce and garlic paste in a small bowl.

Step 4

In a separate bowl mix the cinnamon, cumin, allspice, salt, thyme, chilli flakes, pepper, cloves and bay.

Step 5

In a large frying pan heat the oil over medium high. Gently cook the onions for 4 minutes stirring often, then add the mushrooms and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the lentils and stir well for a minute. Pour in the tomatoes, water (rinsing out the tin) and the tomato paste mixture. When it comes to the boil add the spices, turn the heat right down, stir and simmer for about 5 minutes. You want a thick but not dry sauce. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Step 6

For the pastitsio: Preheat the oven to 170C fan assisted (190C conventional).

Step 7

Boil the pasta according to instructions. Drain, drizzle in 2 teaspoons of olive oil and toss well. Split the pasta into two portions, one slightly larger than the other. Mix 2 tablespoons of the bechamel into the larger portion and spread it over the bottom of a 26x33cm baking dish.

Step 8

Spread the lentil sauce over the first layer of pasta in the dish. Arrange the rest of the pasta on top, then pour the bechamel evenly over that.

Step 9

In a small bowl mix the panko with the remaining teaspoon of olive oil and the thyme, and sprinkle over the pastitsio. Bake for 35-40 until slightly golden (it won’t brown much).

Step 10

Let the dish rest for at least half an hour before slicing and serving.

Note: Both the lentil and mushroom sauce, and the bechamel sauce can be prepared the day before and kept in the fridge.

No ratings yet

So, what do you think? Leave me a comment!

No comments yet