Quick Pastitsio

It’s a snow day at my house. Well, as snowy as Tulsa gets, which is more ice than snow at this point. But snow days make me think of living back in Chicago, where cold and snow are the norm. In Chicago, my husband and I loved to go eat in Greektown. Greek food is full of love and made any snow day better.

This pastitsio is not like what I would have eaten in Greektown. It’s much lighter, has more veggies, and cooks in at least half the time. But it still evokes the same flavors. I hope it brightens your world on this wintry day.


Quick Pastitsio (Serves 6)


Cooking spray
8 ounces uncooked, whole wheat penne pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb lean ground turkey (93/7)
1 ½ cups chopped onion
1 bell pepper, chopped
¾ cup finely chopped carrot
5 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flour
2 cups skim milk
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced no salt added tomatoes, drained
7 ounces fat free cream cheese
¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped

1. Preheat broiler to high. Coat a broiler safe baking dish with cooking spray.

2. Cook pasta to al dente, omitting any fat or salt in cooking. Drain.

3. While pasta cooks, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ½ tablespoon of olive oil. Once oil is heated, add ground turkey. Sauté until browned, about 5 minutes, stirring to crumble. Remove from pan. Drain pan if needed. Add remaining oil. Add onion, pepper, and carrot. Sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 5-6 minutes. Add garlic, sauté one minute more, stirring constantly.

4. Return turkey to pan. Sprinkle in salt. Add flour and stir frequently, cooking for 1 minute.

5. Stir in milk, tomato, and cream cheese. Bring to a simmer, stirring until smooth. Cook for 2 minutes, or until heated through. Stir in pasta.

6. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over the top. Broil for 4 minutes, or until top is golden and slightly crunchy looking. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Nutritional Information (Amount per Serving):

Calories: 406
Protein: 32 g
Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 71 mg
Carbohydrates: 45 g
Fiber: 5 g
Sodium: 523 mg

Recipe Notes: I subbed in ground turkey here. A lean ground beef is also tasty and lends to a slightly more colorful dish. I don’t need to drain my pan after the turkey. I like having any juices or browned bits in there to stir in with the rest of the ingredients. It is important to chop the carrot small or even shred it for this dish. There isn’t a ton of cooking time for it to soften. I wouldn’t skip on broiling time either. The crunchy lid of cheese is delicious, and the extra heating time doesn’t hurt the sauce or pasta to come together either.

Source: Adapted from Cooking Light

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