Friday, July 16, 2021

Healthier Pastitsio

This is a sponsored post by Dishtory, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible!

My Yiayia and my mom were the biggest influences in my life in regards to developing my passion for cooking. I spent many hours learning from them in the kitchen and watching them construct baklava, spanakopita, tiropita, and other incredible Greek dishes. They didn’t even need to look at a recipe. I joined the fun when I was a bit older, making sure to pay close attention to their idiosyncrasies.

Later in life, I asked my mom to send me one of Yiayia’s recipes. The recipe she sent me was written in Greek. And then once I translated it, I realized it only had very basic directions—it didn’t include all of the tips and tricks Yiayia showed me when we made it together. I called her to ask about it, and it was only until she explained it to me over the phone that I remembered how to make the recipe.

Most people can follow directions, but oftentimes, there’s a lot more that goes into a dish than what is written in the recipe. That’s why Dishtory is such a great concept. The app allows users to record, save and share recipes in their own voice so they can create, plate and curate home-cooked creations with people who matter most. Unlike written recipe cards, the audio heirlooms cooked up on Dishtory exist in perpetuity, can be shared instantaneously, and bring the voice of a distant, departed or disconnected one to life. 

I recently used the app to share a “lightened-up” version of one of my family’s favorite recipes, pastitsio. Often described as Greek lasagna, the dish is traditionally very heavy with ground beef and a rich b├ęchamel sauce. The lighter version I created uses mushrooms instead of meat, and I used a Greek yogurt topping in place of the b├ęchamel sauce.

My mom was skeptical of the recipe, so I asked her to make it with me. I wanted Yiayia to come over as well, but unfortunately she is unable to travel due to restrictions at her assisted living facility.

This photo shows Yiayia and my mom making baklava in 2017.

Replacing ground beef with mushrooms is a fairly new food trend, but there are certain steps you need to take when making the substitution. For example, mushrooms are 90% water, so before using them in a recipe, you need to cook them down to the point that all the water evaporates from the mushrooms. If you don’t evaporate all the water, your dish will be soupy. It took about an hour of cooking the mushrooms on the stove before the water was all evaporated. I explained that to my mom when we were cooking together, and I also recorded that info in the Dishtory app so she can listen back to it without me.

Dishtory’s simple, easy-to-use interface allows users of all ages and life stages to quickly navigate and create their audio recipes for posterity—no complicated instructions or tutorials required! You can record a recipe and upload a picture within the app, or you can upload sound and images from your phone’s library. And if you’re not comfortable sharing your recipe with anyone else, there’s an option to keep it private.

Also, you can search for recipes in the app by either the username or the recipe name. After discovering a new recipe you’re interested in, save it in your “recipe book” in the app for easy access.

Even though Yiayia wasn’t with us to make this recipe, I shared the recording with her. I know it warmed her heart to see that her passion for cooking and Greek food lives inside me.


Healthier Pastitsio

Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients

For the sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pounds baby Bella or cremini mushrooms
  • 2 yellow onions, small dice
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1, 28-ounce can petite diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the pasta

  • 14 ounces bucatini pasta
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

For the topping

  • 3 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup Kefalotyri Greek cheese, grated (can substitute romano or parmesan)

Directions

For the sauce

  1. Pulse mushrooms in food processor until they resemble ground meat.
  2. Cook mushrooms in deep skillet until all water is released and evaporates.This may take up to an hour.
  3. Once water evaporates, add onion. Cook on low until onions become soft and translucent.
  4. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook until mixed in, about a minute.
  5. Stir in tomatoes, red wine, salt, paprika, black pepper, cinnamon, ground cloves, and bay leaves.
  6. Bring to boil, reduce to gentle simmer. Cover and simmer 45 minutes to an hour to allow flavors to develop. Stir occasionally. Sauce should be very thick. If it isn’t thick enough, cook uncovered another 5 - 10 minutes. Set aside when done.
  7. Allow sauce to cool and stir in beaten egg.

For the pasta

  1. Cook bucatini in salted water for 8 minutes, or 1 minute short of al dente per package instructions.
  2. Allow to cool and stir in beaten egg and feta cheese.

For the topping

  1. Mix Greek yogurt with beaten eggs, salt, pepper, and ground nutmeg.

For assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Spray 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
  3. Spread pasta in even layer in baking dish.
  4. Spread sauce in even layer over pasta.
  5. Spread topping in even layer over sauce. Sprinkle cheese on top
  6. Bake about 30 minutes or until topping turns golden. Cool at least 10 minutes before serving.


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