Friday, August 14, 2009
Tzatziki AND Summer Pasticcio!
Remember the unbelievable restaurant tzatziki I promised to recreate a while back? Well, after much tinkering, blending, and cucumber dicing, I do believe we have recreated, and even, dare I say, surpassed the tzatziki bliss we sampled so many weeks ago. Our joy at this tzatziki accomplishment was perhaps a bit comical, as we, together with our friends Frank and Jen, who joined us for dinner on the night of the official tzatziki success, high-fived and applauded the bowl of creamy, refreshing, yogurty perfection. Thankfully Frank and Jen are fellow foodies, otherwise they might have found our enthusiasm for a tzatziki recipe a bit out of the ordinary...
Sadly, though, amidst the excitement, I, um, forgot to photograph the tzatziki... and while we have recreated it several times since, somehow the tzatziki's powers are so distracting that we always wind up sitting down to dinner immediately, sans camera... *sheepish expression* Today, I finally decided to go ahead and share the recipe nonetheless, because, really, it's far too luscious to keep under wraps any longer!
I did, however, photograph my first attempt at pasticcio last weekend, and I am delighted to say that it's silken depths were an equal triumph...
I'm not sure if my version of the classic Greek dish is truly an authentic pasticcio anymore, as I read several recipes and then ultimately tinkered quite a bit in effort to create a much lighter version, but what did result was a casserole both intensely creamy and light, deeply flavorful in summery way, and entirely appropriate for being pressed into use when one longs for something with the delightful illusion of being rich and decadent...
Our Ideal Tzatziki
2 medium-sized cucumbers
2 cups fat free Greek yogurt
1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
2 T lemon juice
1/8 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp dill
~ To prepare the cucumbers, peel them, slice them in half lengthwise, scoop out most of the seeds (without being so diligent that you take most of the cucumber with them...), then dice the cucumber and toss the pieces into a strainer. Sprinkle the cucumber pieces liberally with salt, and allow them to sit in the strainer for 30 minutes. Drain them well, and spread the pieces out on paper towel to pat dry.
~ Then, once all the cucumber prep is completed, simply toss the cucumbers, the Greek yogurts, lemon juice, garlic, and dill into a food processor, and blend until smooth and creamy.
~ Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with warm pita!
1 onion, chopped
1 T olive oil
1 lb ground turkey OR 1 lb firm tofu, crumbled
1 1/2 cups tomato puree
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 cups 1% milk
1/3 cup light vegan marg
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 egg and 2 egg whites, beaten
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 lb whole wheat ziti or penne, cooked according to package directions
1 cup Parmesan cheese
~ In a large skillet, saute the onion in olive oil over medium high heat until the onion is limp and translucent.
~ Add the ground turkey or tofu, and cook until browned.
~ Pour in the tomato puree, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and pepper, and bring to a simmer, stirring well, then reduce the heat to low and cover the skillet.
~ Heat the milk in the microwave until hot but not boiled.
~ In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the vegan marg, then add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 3 minutes.
~ Slowly whisk the hot milk into the flour mixture, and whisk constantly for 10 minutes, until the mixture has thickened just slightly.
~ Blend 1 cup of the milk mixture into the beaten eggs, then stir the milk and eggs back into the rest of the milk and flour mixture.
~ Add the Parmesan to the milk, flour, and egg mixture, and stir until melted.
~ To assemble the dish, Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9X13" baking dish with cooking spray. Place half of the cooked whole wheat pasta evenly in the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese over the pasta, followed by all of the turkey or tofu mixture and half of the milk and egg sauce. Add the remaining pasta, sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and cover with the remaining milk and egg sauce. Top the entire dish with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and bake for 45 minutes. Allow the dish to sit for 15 minutes before serving, lovely and warm...