Looking for the ultimate in vegetarian comfort food? We’ve got something for you.
We subbed out the traditional mince for the most flavour-packed veggie sauce, topped with a creamy Béchamel and baked until golden brown (think oozy lasagna, only plant-based).
Sending you good vibes
For the pasta
500 g penne pasta
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
For the veggie sauce
2 heaped Tbsp butter (or vegan butter)
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, sliced
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
250 g baby marrows, chopped
500 g mixed mushrooms, chopped
1 tbsp chopped thyme
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 cup red wine
700 ml tomato passata
1/2 cup vegetable or mushroom stock
15 ml sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 jar Pesto Princess Greek Pesto
For the Béchamel sauce
125 g butter (or vegan butter)
1 cup flour
750 ml milk (or plant-based mylk)
1 tsp cinnamon
Salt to taste
1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Once cooked, drain and add the olive oil, cinnamon and salt, giving it all a good mix. Set aside until ready to assemble.
2. Heat a large saucepan and add the butter. Saute the onions until soft and add the celery and carrots. Cook for another five to eight minutes before adding the marrows and mushrooms. Simmer for ten to get those umami flavours going.
3. Now add the thyme, garlic, cinnamon and wine. Allow the wine to reduce by half before adding the stock, tomato passata and sugar. Simmer gently until the sauce has thickened (about 15 to 20 minutes). Pull the pot off the heat and stir through the Pesto Princess Greek Pesto. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. For the Béchamel sauce, mix the flour and butter in a saucepan with a whisk continuously for a couple of minutes until well combined, then slowly add the milk one cup at a time – don’t stop whisking. Cook until it starts to thicken, add cinnamon and salt and turn off the heat.
5. Now it’s time to assemble the pastitsio. You’ll need a deep casserole dish or baking tray which you’ve greased with some olive oil. Add some spoonfuls of the veggie sauce to cover the bottom of the dish, followed by a layer of pasta. Now layer veggie sauce, followed by pasta again and top it all off with the Béchamel sauce. Bake for 30 minutes at 180°C.
Remove from the oven, rest for 15 minutes and dig in!
Photography, Recipes and Styling by Michelle Parkin.