Lately I have discovered the joys of macaroni, a variety of pasta I have always held in deep suspicion, something to do with my school days and the fact that I am not that fond of cheesy white sauce.
The great thing about this dish is that the cheesy sauce sort of disappears into the pasta, keeping it lovely and soft and full of flavour and you don’t have mouthfuls of wet slop to contend with when you eat it which is probably what put me off at school all those years ago.
Again it is another dish that you probably all know but I have never made it at home before so just in case you need a delicious comfort food that can feed loads of people and that can be easily reheated, I suggest you pop over to Jane @ Tea With Hazel where the recipe for Pasticcio Macaroni lives and have a go at making it. I followed it pretty much word for word, very easy to follow recipe, thank you Jane!
We love the cinnamon and allspice with lamb, which makes a change from the everyday rosemary, mint and lemon that we tend to pair with this meat. The top becomes light and bouncy and a little bit crunchy when you reheat it, so you get a good variety of texture. We were eating it all last week with a variety of steamed vegetables or salads and were perfectly happy. You can cut it into squares and just warm it up whenever it suits you.
I reduced the amount of meat from the original recipe to 400g because I didn’t have the right amount in the freezer, and used a mixture of feta, cheddar, ricotta and parmesan (all bits and pieces lurking in the cheese box in the fridge) in the topping, but like all these sorts of dishes they adapt easily to what you have available.
We have greek oregano growing in the garden, I bought a little plant years ago and now it seeds itself all over the garden and makes itself at home; it has a definite affinity with pebbles and stones.
I rarely make baked pasta dishes but this one has just shot to the top of my go-to list.
Do you have a favourite baked pasta dish?
We make a version of this, and our Cornish friend Will describes it as pasta with custard, his “two favourite things”. :)
Described like that, I have a little shudder, but everyone has their favourite foods :)
Always wanted to make this dish, never did… I think my favorite baked pasta dish might be a lasagna made with roasted zucchini in the filling. Most people use eggplant, but I find the zucchini has a sweetness that is hard to beat. But, of course, my beloved’s mac and cheese, that he loads with mushrooms, is a favorite of ours too…
Sounds delicious Sally – I need to work on these dishes as they are very popular if not particularly photogenic :)
I think your photo turned out great! My problem with food is anything brown – brownies, chocolate mousse, cakes, stews, pot roast. I find them impossible to take a good picture …
Celia is good on photographing brown food. Cream, strawberries, bits of leaf – a happy face, I think I once put a small stuffed poodle toy on the plate next to a photo of a chocolate zuchinni cake ;)
I love this but have not made it before. Thanks for the recipe.
My peony is a bit further along than yours. I am freeing it from its pot this year and it is going to live at Casa Debbio. I hope it likes the mountains.
Peonies love being in the ground so I hope yours is happy up in the mountains. Ours are really late this year, hoping that my favourite white one has survived and comes out soon. I love them because the slugs leave them alone, it’s just the ants that like crawling around on the buds, but they don’t seem to do any damage, or bring greenfly with them (unlike what they get up to with artichokes and cardoons). I think I should plant more peonies!
My favorite baked pasta dish is pasticcio, too. They serve it in a lot of Greek restaurants in Hamburg, though they spell it pastitsio. A hint of cinnamon as seasoning in pasta sauce is common in the Venetian cuisine, too (my husband’s family is from Venice, Italy), and he seasons his famous sugo with it.
I haven’t seen it much on the menus in Greek restaurants here, but maybe I haven’t looked for it. I have eaten it on holiday though. Karin, I am doomed to spelling grief with my posts recently, I have a feeling we call it pastitsio here too, but I went with the spelling from Jane’s blog. I imagine Venetian cuisine is full of spices dating back to their centuries as a key player in the Spice Trade. I think many of the Italian pastries that I read about all sound very Middle Eastern with their use of orange flower water and other flavourings.
I would like to eat your husband’s famous sugo!
I am not a fan of dry baked pasta dishes at all but I do like proper macaroni cheese. Like you I hated it at school but my husband introduced me to his version with tomatoes and bacon and i am now a complete convert.
it isn’t dry, just not slithering around, if that makes sense. Another husband special :)
I love pasta and your recipe is a comfort food turn-on that I will try. M favorite pasta dish is lasagne. My husband makes the best I’ve eve had. He includes spinach and it’s very tasty.
Spinach lasagne sounds just great :)
My Mum always made macaroni cheese with penne or rigatoni so I’ve never been a big macaroni eater – however in a dish with mince like this I can imagine the smaller pieces work really well. Love the look of your previous post too!
Thsnks! I think this is made in Greece with a specisl long hollow pasta, very worm like, Jane refers to it in her post. The day it was made it was all much looser and spilled all ocer the plate, it sets up once ithas cooled down a bit. Lining the dish with oil and breadcrumbs meant it was easy to get out in pieces too.
In Sicily we have what is known as Pasta al Forno, usually made with penne and a Ragu no white sauce, peas and on occasion boiled eggs!
I can’t quite visualize this, where do the boiled eggs go?
I make a chicken lasagna with spinach that I am very fond of- it has a white sauce which means my husband will eat it- since he won’t eat tomato sauce. This looks very good- and I like the addition of cinnamon and allspice- I usually add allspice to beef dishes, but not usually cinnamon!
Thanks for the recipe!
I gave some to my neighbour the first night of eating this and she said she thought it tasted of cake. So I guess that was the cinammon and she couldn’t place the taste. Does Frank not eat tomatoes at all, or is just in sauce form? Chicken lasagne is one I haven’t tried yet. Tonight I have gone on food strike and we have had take away from our local Indian restaurant :)
He will eat fresh tomatoes- doesn’t like the ones from the supermarket- have to be garden picked.
I think take-away is a great solution to dinner strikes!
I don’t like the ones from the supermarket much either, they have so many sorts now, ‘on the vine’ ‘grown in organic chicken feathers’ and so on and none of them taste like homegrown, I like the smell of home ones, they have that green tomato pollen smell from the leaves that vanishes once they have been fridged and transported.
Definitely one for me as I love macaroni and cheese, lasagne etc. I never associated these dishes with Greece though. We had a great holiday in Greece once, but dining was a problem for my husband who liked his food to be really hot and disliked their habit of eating things luke warm. Suited me as I do not have an asbestos tongue!
I don’t have an asbestos tongue either and find that I can’t taste food if it is really hot and I get mouth blisters too. I let my tea sit for ages before I drink it. And hot milky things give me hiccups! I hope you try it Ann, sounds like you might like it :)
It looks delicious, I’m a big fan of baked pasta dishes. I think in my case it’s because I grate a large amount of cheese onto the top and I adore melted cheese! I love the colour of your peony shoots, they’re spectacular.
Have you ever made those parmesan lollipops, they would be the perfect thing for a melted cheese fan? The peonies are slow this year but they are on their way now; even slower are the hostas which are barely breaking the soil in their pots, but it’s all about anticipation at this time of year outside I guess :)
I have ‘lurky’ memories of school dinners and macaroni too – and boiled cabbage:( This recipe looks and sounds very yum and I imagine it would freeze well too – it’s always good to have a meal we can pull out of the freezer. How lovely to be growing your own peonies – they are my absolute favourite and we so rarely see them here in Brisbane – plus when you do they cost a King’s ransom. I really like Greek oregano and have some growing in a pot on our deck – I go and brush its leaves and inhale its scent for pure pleasure.
I wonder if peonies are a colder climate plant, I don’t know much about them really. I had a Canadian friend who had them growing all round her house and that is who I associate them with I guess. There are some very expensive ones, like the one called Molly the Witch, but I don’t have those ones. I must get outside and get planting and sowing seeds soon Jan, my attempts at gardening are non existent this year so far – oops!
Ah, cold Macaroni Pies have kept us going while doing shows at crazy hours during the Edinburgh Fringe (they’re also useful for soaking up pints of 80/-) BTW that’s not a new ‘smiley’ character – it’s for ’80 shilling’. Not the greatest or most refined cuisine though…
What a tantalizing comment – now I want to know all about your shows :)
Can’t send you a link as they were in the days before such things… I was just the techie – doing lights and playing in music and the like. Great fun (we also found really good, wholefood co-op type cafes so it wasn’t all macaroni pie, potato scones and pineapple cakes)
Hi I have nominated you for a Liebster award, I do hope you can join in. See here:
Thank you for thinking of me, it is very kind of you.
hi jo..your pasticcio/pastitsio looks really good and it’s inspired me to make it again this week..and thanks for the recipe link..x
It was yummy Jane and I am sure I will make it again too – huge hit here xx