Pumpkin, Feta and Pea "Pastitsio"

Time to play with tradition again!

You know I like to tinker with traditional Greek recipes.

Just can't leave them alone.

A number of years ago on the blog there was a little "controversy" surrounding the Greek dish of pastitsio. I won't go into it too much, except to say that I was corrected by the "food blog police" about the proper way of making this dish.

For the uninitiated I like to think of pastitsio as a Greek version of lasagne! (Just to confuse everyone a little more!). It's basically a baked dish consisting of tubular pasta, a meat sauce and béchamel.

I still consider it my favourite Greek dish.

And it can be quite a pain to make. There's a few steps involved and it can take the better part of a day.

If you look through the archives I did a veggie version of pastitsio a few years ago with Swiss chard.

Today's version uses pumpkin, feta cheese and peas. There's a good amount of nutmeg too enhancing the whole autumnal feel of this dish.

It's topped with béchamel and I can definitely say that one (largish) slice is enough.

Some might laugh at this and say it's baked pasta with a béchamel sauce.

Nah!

I'm calling it pastitsio.

Enjoy!

PUMPKIN, FETA AND PEA PASTITSIO RECIPE

Ingredients:

For the pumpkin sauce

  • 1.2kg butternut pumpkin cut into even chunks
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup freshly chopped parsley
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • pinch pepper
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg

PLUS

  • 300g cooked rigatoni pasta
  • 200g crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 cups frozen peas, blanched

For the béchamel sauce

  • 75g butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 litre milk
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • pinch of ground pepper
  • pinch nutmeg

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 deg C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Toss the pumpkin in the olive oil and salt and cook for 45-50 mins until tender. Set aside to cool completely. Saute the onion and garlic in a hot pan for a few mins until softened. Set aside.
  3. In a food processor add the cooked, cooled pumpkin, onion and garlic, parsley, eggs, Parmesan, pepper and nutmeg. Process to form a smooth paste and set aside.
  4. Cook the pasta until al dente, drain and toss through the pumpkin mixture in a separate bowl. Add the feta and peas and stir through again. Pour the pasta into a 25cm x 35cm baking dish and set aside.
  5. To make the béchamel heat the butter over a medium to high heat. Slowly add the flour until a roux forms. Cook for a few mins constantly stirring. Slowly add the milk and whisk until the mixture has thickened completely (approx. 10 mins). Add the grated Parmesan, nutmeg and pepper and stir again. Pour the béchamel over the pasta, ensuring it is evenly covered, add a little extra grated Parmesan and bake for 45-50 mins in the oven.
  6. Allow to cool for half an hour before serving with a Green salad.