Diced! – Maggie – Pastitsio

Today we have an entrant for the second course of the Diced! competition. Contestants were instructed to create or find a recipe for a main dish containing the following ingredients: Ground TurkeyGingersnap Cookies, Greek Yogurt and Fresh Jalapeños. They were instructed to make their dish and create a blog post about it, including pictures. You can help determine who advances to the next round. On Friday, after the last post, I will post a poll where you can vote for up to two of the contestants to move on. Vote for the post you like the best. You can vote because of the inventiveness, the yummyness, the use of ingredients, the quality of the writing and pictures or for any other reason. The poll will be active for one week only. Check back and vote. In the event of a tie, the Ranting Chef will choose who advances. More information about Diced! can be found here.

We started with five contestants and have three remaining (in alphabetical order): Ajax, Jenna and Maggie. Ellie had the fewest amount of votes after the first round and Mikaela had to drop out of the competition.

Today’s contestant, Maggie is no stranger to The Rantings of an Amateur Chef. As the author of the popular Maggie Monday series, she has brought us quite a few great dishes. Now it is time for Maggie to go toe-to-toe with our other contestants.

When I read the ingredients for this round of Diced, I had to think about them for a few days. I considered tacos, enchiladas, meatballs, and stroganoff. Then I remembered my sister in law’s yummy Pastitsio. Done.

My sister-in-law can cook, and she is adventurous in trying recipes. She had shared this recipe with me, but I had never made it. I knew the turkey could easily replace the lamb this recipe typically calls for, and the yogurt was already in the Bechamel.  Since this is a greek dish, I thought the ginger snaps would compliment the cinnamon and nutmeg. The jalapenos were my worry… the recipe called for cayenne, so I figured in this case, heat is heat! There are so many layers of flavor going on in this dish, I figured it wouldn’t matter!

It turned out really well. Even with ginger snaps and jalapenos, the dish stayed true to the Mediterranean roots. It was great- family loved it, and I’ll probably make it again, with the ginger snaps!



Tomato Meat Sauce

4 Tb Olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 lb ground turkey

1 lb lean ground beef

2/3 cup red wine, dry

2/3 cup ground ginger snaps- reserve 2Tbs

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely minced

1Tbs minced garlic

1Tbs cinnamon

1 tsp dried thyme

1tsp oregano

1 28 ox can crushed tomatoes, in puree

2 tsp Kosher salt

1 tsp pepper

Bechamel Sauce

1 ½ cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

4Tbs butter

¼ cup flour

¼ tsp nutmeg

Salt and pepper

1 ½ cups grated parmesan cheese

2 eggs, beaten

2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 box small pasta shells

What you do:

Place ginger snap cookies ( about a dozen or so) in food processor and pulse until they are finely crumbled. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the onion and saute for a few minutes, Add the turkey and beef, and continue to cook for about another 10 minutes, until fully cooked, breaking the meat with a spoon so it is finely crumbled. You don’t want big chunks Drain off liquid. Add the wine and cook for 2 -3 minutes. Add garlic, spices, and jalapenos, and cook for another 5 minutes. Incorporate the ground ginger snaps into the meat mixture. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 30 minutes, and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the Bechamel, heat the milk in and cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. In a larger sauce pan, melt the butter, then add the flour and cook over medium heat, whisking for about 2 minutes. Pour the warm milk mixture into the butter/flour mixtures, whisking continually. Continue cooking for another 7 minutes or so, until smooth and thick. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir in ¾ cup of parmesan cheese, and measure out ½ cup of the tomato meat sauce add this to the Bechamel.  Remove from heat, and after it has cooled for 10 minutes, stir in the eggs and yogurt, and set aside.

Cook the pasta until al dente. Don’t overcook as you will bake the pasta later, Drain and set aside.

Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Stir the pasta into the meat sauce, then pour the pasta and meat mixture into the baking dish. Spread the Bechamel evenly all over the pasta/meat mixture, then sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese and reserved ginger snap crumbs.

IMG_2741Bake for about an hour, until golden brown and bubbly. Remove from oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Serve hot.


Remember – check back after the last post to vote on who advances in the Diced! competition.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Baking 2, Cheese2, Greek, Guest-Maggie, Pasta, Recipes, Turkey

Author:The Ranting Chef

Check out the best recipes at rantingchef.com

3 Comments on “Diced! – Maggie – Pastitsio”

  1. April 15, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    Awesome! I love pastitsio! I will definitely give it a try with the jalapenos.


  2. April 17, 2013 at 9:09 am #

    I grew up on Pastitsio, and my mother in law makes it all the time! Lucky me, she even makes a vegetarian version. 🙂


  3. July 23, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    That is such a great twist on the classic pastitsio! I think my American husband will like my Greek family recipe even more if I add jalapenos from now on!


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