Pumpkin Pastitsio

Each year I see people throw out their carved pumpkins when they can use the flesh to make another good dish or two. Hold on to those pumpkins after Halloween, we’ve got a Greek dish to make! Inspired by Diane Kochilas’ version of Pastitsio with pumpkin, I took this riff on Greek’s answer to lasagna and turned it into a vegetarian dish. Swap ground meat for roasted pumpkin or squash…whatever you have on hand.

Classic Pastitsio uses hollow bucatini-type pasta with a layer of spiced, aromatic meat sauce in between and a creamy Bechamel on top. The dish is baked until the top is golden, allowed to rest before cutting into big square portions.

The flavour profile is different from the classic Pastitsio: I chose herbs and flavouring that flavours pumpkin and squash: there’s onions and garlic to make the dish more savoury: some thyme, allspice and sage to warm the di sh and some crumbled Feta cheese to balance the pumpkin’s natural sweetness.

The Bechamel is the same: butter, milk, grated Kefalotyri cheese and fresh grated nutmeg, pinch of salt and pepper. This dish is great if you want to give the family a break from meat and you have another use for that Halloween pumpkin!

Pumpkin Pastitsio (Παστιτσιο με Κιτρινο Κολοκυθι)

1 packet of Misko brand “macaronia no.2 Pastitsio” pasta (500 gr.)

1 medium-sized pumpkin or 2 butternut squash

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tsp. of fresh thyme leaves

2 tsp. fresh chopped sage

1/4 chopped fresh parsley

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup crumbled Feta cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Bechamel sauce

6 Tbsp.  butter
1/2 cup flour
5 cups of warm milk (no lighter than 2%)
4 eggs
3/4 cup of Kefalotiri or Romano cheese
salt to taste

1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 400F. Carefully cut your pumpkin into wedge (or halve your squash) and remove any seeds. Drizzle the inside with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in your preheated oven for about 40 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from t he oven and allow to cool enough to handle. Use a spoon to remove the cooked pumpkin and place in a large bowl (discard skins).
  2. In the meantime, place a medium skillet on the stove over medium heat and add the diced onions and garlic and sweat for 6-7 minutes or until translucent. Allow to cool and place in a bowl along with the pumpkin, allspice, sage, thyme, parsley, ricotta, Feta cheese. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and gently mix. Cover and place in the fridge.
  3. For the pasta, place a large pot of water on your stove stovetop and bring to a bowl. Add salt and the entire package of pasta and cook for 5 minutes, drain. You may toss a bit of oil in the pasta so it doesn’t clump up.
  4. To make the Bechamel, put the butter in a pot to melt. Add the flour, stirring quickly with a wooden spoon to prevent lumps from forming. Stir & cook the flour/butter mixture to a golden colour. Pour in the milk while stirring and then and salt to taste, stirring the mixture constantly. When it thickens, turn off the heat and add your cheese and pour in your eggs, continue stirring. Add your nutmeg and stir in.
  5. Pre-heat your oven to 375F and grease/butter a 9 X 13 deep baking dish. Add a ladle of Bechamel into the dish and spread evenly on the bottom. Now lay half of your boiled pasta evenly on the bottom. Spread the entire pumpkin filling evenly over the pasta then place the remaining pasta over the pumpkin.
  6. Pour the remaining Bechamel over the pasta and spread evenly. Grate some more Kefalotyri cheese on top and place in your pre-heated 375F oven for 50-60 minutes or until the top is golden-brown. Allow to rest for about 40 minutes before cutting.

 

 

© 2012,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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