My previous post was all about Ina Garten’s new book, Make It Ahead. Ms. Garten’s book focuses on recipes that can be prepared ahead of time so that the host or hostess spends less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying their guest’s company. Having seen it in restaurants, I was especially excited about her recipe for Pastitsio, a dish she describes as “Greek lasagna”. It’s made with lamb, beef, tomato, and spices topped with béchamel and grated cheese.
I found the recipe to be well laid out and not at all difficult to prepare. It does have quite a few steps so I’d suggest you allow at least three hours to prep and bake the dish. Or in the spirit of making it ahead, the author suggests assembling the dish up to 2 days in advance, or freeze it for up to 3 months. Making it ahead would come in handy when entertaining house guests – it makes a lot and it’s deliciously satisfying.
One word of caution: the Pastitsio directions call for 1 tablespoon of salt, each, for the meat sauce and the béchamel. I reduced the salt to two teaspoons in both cases and that still resulted in a slightly too salty meat sauce and an inedible béchamel. I checked the recipe against Garten’s Food Network version and 1 teaspoon is the measure used there. After remaking the béchamel with 3/4 teaspoon of salt the dish came out well.
I understand how proofreading a book or an article can fail – I read and reread my blog posts looking for errors but some evade my scrutiny. I recall a squash soup recipe in a popular cooking magazine that called for a large amount of ground white pepper – against my better judgement I added the full quantity. The finished dish was horrible! I learned the valuable lesson of adding ingredients such as cayenne, white pepper, chilies, hot sauce, and now I must add SALT to the list, very conservatively. You can always add more, but once added you cannot remove it.
The three-hour prep time became four but the dish was sumptuous nevertheless. I can’t wait for leftovers tonight!