Do-Ahead Spinach PastitsioThis Greek layered dish is easy to assemble the night before entertaining guests. It makes a fine vegetarian entree, especially when served with a Greek salad and Baklava for dessert.
- 2 c dry penne pasta (or any small hollow pasta)
- 10 oz frozen cut or chopped spinach, thawed
- 1 c ricotta cheese
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 c finely chopped onion
- 1/4 c finely chopped celery
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp dry dill
- 1 tsp dry mint
- 1 tsp dry parsley
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 1/3 c milk
- 1 c shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 Tsp dry breadcrumbs
- 2 Tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 Tbsp melted butter
- Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain well and set aside.
- Squeeze the excess water out of the thawed spinach using your hands or pressing against a fine strainer with the back of a spoon. Place in a large bowl. Blend in the ricotta thoroughly and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter on medium low heat. Add onions and celery; saute 3 minutes. Add the garlic, dill, mint, parsley, salt and pepper; saute 1 minute more.
- Whisk in the flour and stir for 30 seconds before adding the milk. Continue to whisk until thick and beginning to bubble at edges. Add to the ricotta/spinach mixture and blend well.
- Butter an 8 x 8 x 2 inch pan and add half the pasta to the bottom. Add a layer of half the spinach mixture. Repeat once.
- Sprinkle an even layer of mozarella on top. In a small bowl blend the topping ingredients. Scatter the topping over the pastitsio. Cover tightly and refrigerate until an hour before service.
- To cook, remove from refrigerator while preheating the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake 30 minutes. Cut across in thirds and then cut the three pieces in half. Serve hot.