This healthier Greek Pastitsio is my reduced fat, reduced calorie, re-make of the full fat original. Made with a lower fat cheese sauce and packed with more protein instead of carbs, you’ll still get the full flavour of the original dish, just not the full fattening affects on your waistline. A quick healthy meal ready in one hour.
I love lasagne type dishes and this, my version, of the alternative Greek lasagne, Pastitsio, has tons of flavour like the full original Pastitsio. It’s just that I’ve made a few tweaks and changes to the amount of pasta required and put in my own preferred lower in fat cheese sauce rather than the traditional full fat cheese béchamel sauce. Therefore it’s healthier.
Pastitsio is normally always my first choice dish for mains if I’m out at one of the excellent Greek restaurants in Glasgow, like Elia. But that’s different, because when you eat relatively healthily for the majority of the time (80%), you can then afford to indulge to indulge a little (20%) and have the full fat excellent home-style version now and then.
But, when I’m at home I’ll cook this my healthier Greek Pastitsio version. 🙂
- 500g extra lean beef mince less than 5% fat.
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed.
- 1 tbsp. tomato puree.
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. oregano
- 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 100ml boiled water with a beef stock cube crumbed in
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 200g Macaroni
- 300ml cold milk
- 20g corn flour mixed with 2 tbsp. cold water
- 150g low fat grated cheese.
- Nutmeg (freshly grated to taste or ground from a jar)
- Heat a large saucepan / casserole pot, and gradually add the mince breaking it down and stirring it round with a wooden spatula to brown it and release its fat.
- Once mince has been browned remove the mince from the saucepan / casserole pot with a slotted spoon and set it aside.
- Add the onions and carrots to the mince fat, saute for 2 - 3 minutes, stirring continually. Add the garlic, saute for a further 2 – 3 minutes then add the tomato puree, ground cinnamon, oregano and chopped tomatoes.
- Add the mince back to the saucepan / casserole pot, stir to mix everything together and then add the boiled water with the crumbed beef stock cube in. Bring mixture to a boil, season to taste and then reduce to a simmer. You want to cook this until most of the liquid has evaporated to leave a thick meat sauce.
- Pre-heat Oven to 180C Fan
- Meanwhile, whilst the sauce is cooking down, cook the 200g macaroni in boiling salted water for approximately 12 minutes. Drain the macaroni in a sieve.
- In a saucepan, with a low heat under, make the cheese sauce by whisking the cold milk and corn flour until they thicken, then add 75g of the cheese. Keep whisking together to remove all lumps. Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
- In an ovenproof dish layer firstly ½ of the cooked macaroni, then all of the meat sauce, then the rest of the macaroni and finally top with the cheese sauce.
- Sprinkle the top of the cheese sauce with the remaining 75g grated cheese and then grate fresh nutmeg over the top, or sprinkle ground nutmeg over. The amount here is a personal preference. Personally I do not like too much as it can completely over power the flavour of the dish.
- Cook the Pastitsio in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes until the cheese bubbles and the top browns.
- Remove from the oven and leave to sand for 15 – 20 minutes before serving.
I like to serve my Pastitsio with a green salad of lettuce, cucumber and spring onions. But as it’s pretty low calorie wise you could also serve it with some garlic bread and the green salad?
This is one of these meals that’s great to freeze if made in bulk. I would simply take this out of the freezer in the morning; allow defrosting during the day, and then re-heating at 180C for 10 – 12 minutes at dinner time. I find it’s much less stress and hassle when I’ve the plenty of frozen, portioned “ready meals” that I’ve made in the freezer when I’m busy at work and I know that I’ll be coming home tired from a long day.
Let me know what you think of my healthier Greek Pastitsio? I love to have your feedback.