Pastit­sio

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - FOOD DRINK -

This dish is a Greek lasagne, with three lay­ers. The bot­tom layer is tra­di­tion­ally made up of ziti, which is a long, tubu­lar pasta – the shape of penne, the length of spaghetti. It’s fun, but only avail­able from spe­cial­ist sup­pli­ers, so don’t worry. Next, a layer of meat sauce, and then – ob­vi­ously – a cheesy top. The meat sauce is turned up nine notches with sweet marsala, cin­na­mon and prunes, and the top­ping is yolk-en­riched pecorino béchamel.

SERVES FIVE TO SIX INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 car­rot, finely chopped

1 stick of cel­ery, finely chopped 2 cloves of gar­lic, finely chopped 1 tbsp to­mato purée

500g minced beef

100ml marsala

400g can of chopped toma­toes 1 tsp dried thyme

2 cin­na­mon sticks

2 bay leaves

5 pit­ted prunes, finely chopped 25g pars­ley, chopped

450g ziti (or an­other pasta of your choice, ide­ally tubu­lar)

115g feta

4 egg whites

30g parme­san, grated 90g un­salted but­ter

70g plain flour

900ml milk

80g pecorino, grated

¼ tsp nut­meg, freshly grated 4 egg yolks

Add the olive oil to a large sauté pan and set it over a medium heat. When the oil’s hot, put the chopped onion, car­rot and cel­ery in the pan, and stir well. Cook for 10 min­utes, stir­ring un­til soft. Add the chopped gar­lic to the pan and keep go­ing for two more min­utes.

Add the to­mato purée, stir well and cook for a minute, or un­til the purée shifts to a more ruby red.

Add the minced beef to the pan, break­ing it up with your wooden spoon as you stir. Cook it for five min­utes, then add the marsala to the pan, and cook un­til it’s al­most all evap­o­rated. Now add the canned toma­toes, dried thyme, and some salt and pep­per to the pan. Stir, and then bury the cin­na­mon sticks and bay leaves.

Turn the heat down to low, put the lid on the pan and leave it to sim­mer for 20 min­utes. Then, take the lid off and let it sim­mer for five more min­utes. Stir through the chopped prunes and 15g of the chopped pars­ley, put the lid on, and pop the pan to one side.

Cook the pasta in plenty of salted wa­ter un­til just al dente (it’ll cook a bit more in the oven). When it’s done, drain it and add it to the bot­tom of your oven dish. Leave it there for now un­til you’re ready for it.

To make the béchamel, melt the but­ter in a large saucepan over a medium heat.

When it’s melted, add the flour, and stir with a wooden spoon un­til smooth and beau­ti­fully beige.

Add the milk bit by bit (about 100ml at a time), stir­ring and switch­ing to a whisk if it gets lumpy.

Once you’ve added all the milk, take the sauce off the heat and stir through the grated pecorino, fol­lowed by the nut­meg and some salt and pep­per.

Now, reach for your egg yolks. Give them a quick mix with a fork, and then add a scant ta­ble­spoon of béchamel to them, mix­ing con­tin­u­ously so the yolks don’t scram­ble. Re­peat this three more times to care­fully warm up the yolks.

Add the yolk mix into the pan of béchamel and stir well. Leave it to one side.

Pre­heat the oven to 200C/Gas 6.

To as­sem­ble the pastit­sio, crum­ble the feta and sprin­kle the re­main­ing chopped pars­ley into the pasta. Add half of the egg whites and toss re­ally vig­or­ously so all of the pasta has met some egg white.

Stir the rest of the egg whites through the meat sauce, and spoon that on top of the pasta, spread­ing it out with the back of your spoon to form an even layer.

Top with the béchamel cus­tard and sprin­kle the parme­san on top.

Bake in the mid­dle of the oven for 35 min­utes, or un­til the top is evenly browned.

Leave it to rest for 10 min­utes be­fore slic­ing and serv­ing.

Recipes from Carbs by Laura Good­man (£15, Quadrille). Buy now for £12.99

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