Friday, June 13, 2008

Taste and Create: Pastitsio with Swiss Chard, Dandelions and Nettles

Pastitsio
The heat has finally subsided. That is to say, now it is just hot rather than cook you in your skin hot. Exhausted from work and life, last night I really wanted a warm, cheesy satisfying dinner in hopes that the fat and mouth-feel would elevate me.

And, Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska hooked me up. Laurie is my Taste and Create partner this month. I really think Laurie has a knack of making Greek food look lovely. Home food can be hard to present photographically. Tasty and pretty are not mutually exclusive (obviously) and Laurie is good at that intersection.

But, I so digress from dinner last night. We had almost everything we need for her Pastitsio in the fridge. A quick trip to pick up kasseri, a Greek melting cheese, and we were ready. Her recipe gave some latitude in the greens we could use. When I was reading her blog, I had this funny revelation. While India doesn’t seem exotic (much of family still lives there), Alaska sure does. Devil’s Club, Firesweed Shoots…Alaska just seems amazing. We made her Pastitisio using Swiss chard, dandelions and nettles to stay in her local greens spirit. We also used macaroni instead of penne, because Belle has serious opinions about pasta shapes. (Toddlers are sure idiosyncratic about food.)

The result was actually surprising—it was much lighter than I expected. Somehow I pictured down-home mac and cheese gone Amy Sedaris. But, it ended up being much more complex. The cheese was in the background with the greens as the star of the dish. This is definitely a recipe that we will eat again.

4 comments:

farida said...

Is this the Greek version of a lasagna? Sounds and looks delicious. Yum!

maybelles parents said...

I don't know the answer to that, but I will refer it Laurie. It is my guess that the Greeks would say they came about it indepedently of the Italians (and the Italians say they came up with lasagna first). At least thats what my Italian grandmother-in-law would have said.

maybelles parents said...

I don't know the answer to that, but I will refer it Laurie. It is my guess that the Greeks would say they came about it indepedently of the Italians (and the Italians say they came up with lasagna first). At least thats what my Italian grandmother-in-law would have said.

Laurie Constantino said...

Your average run-of-the-mill pastitsio is made with a tomato meat sauce - when we sell it at our local Greek festival, a lot of people ask for "Greek lasagna." I think this is more a matter of calling something by a familiar name than saying the Greek is a copy of the Italian (which it isn't). And of course, pastitsio has the essential bechamel on top, which lasagna doesn't. My pastitsio recipe is definitely non-traditional (though the flavors are absolutely traditional) and I'm glad you like it!