Mother’s Day Brunch Pastitsio

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This is my take on a traditional Greek dish that I’ve lightened considerably by replacing most of the pasta with sliced, roasted eggplant. I finish it with a béchamel (a milk sauce) made from skim milk lightened with egg whites. This has a few more steps than a lot of our Laura’s Lean Beef recipes, but it’s worth it—I have this in mind for a Mother’s Day Brunch dish. The fresh dill makes me think of this as such a springtime dish.

Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Serves: 8

1 eggplant (about 1 pound) sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound 96% lean Laura’s Lean Beef Ground Sirloin
1 onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup red wine (substitute 1/4 cup beef stock, if desired)
1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 tablespoon fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/2 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
2 T butter
1/4 c. flour
4 cups skim milk, warmed slightly in microwave
3 eggs, room temperature, separated
1 tablespoon fresh dill
3 cups cooked penne pasta
2 ounces feta cheese
Dill for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lay eggplant rounds onto baking sheet, drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place in preheated oven and bake 15 minutes.

2. While eggplant bakes, brown beef with onion in non-stick skillet or cast-iron pan (browning onions at same time eliminates need for extra oil). When beef is no longer pink at all, add red wine and cook briefly. Add tomatoes, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook until any tomato liquid is evaporated. Remove from heat, stir in breadcrumbs, oregano and mint. Set aside to cool. (At this point, remove eggplant from oven and let cool.)

3. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour to make thick paste.

Slowly add warm milk, beating with wooden spoon or wire whisk after each addition until mixture is smooth. When about 1 cup of milk has been added, whisk or stir in remaining milk. Stir constantly until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, pour into large bowl and whisk a few minutes to cool mixture slightly.
4. Whisk yolks in small bowl. Add about 1/4 cup of milk mixture to yolks, whisking constantly to keep yolks from curdling. Add yolks to milk, whisking constantly until fully incorporated. Stir in fresh dill.

5. Whip egg whites to stiff peaks.

Beat about 1/3 of egg whites into mixture then gently fold remaining whites into milk.

6. Spray 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Place eggplant in as first layer. Top with beef. Top beef with pasta. Gently pour béchamel over all. Crumble feta and gently sprinkle over all.

7. Place dish on baking sheet. Place in oven and bake 35 minutes, until béchamel seems set.

Let rest about 10 minutes. Garnish with dill and serve.

Nutrition Information for 1 serving (1/8 of dish, about 10 ounces):
Calories 349; Calories from Fat 106 (30% from Fat); Fat 12g; Saturated Fat 6g; Cholesterol 129mg; Sodium 400mg; Carbohydrate 34g; Fiber 4g; Protein 25g; Vitamin A 17%; Vitamin C 12%; Calcium 35%; Iron 19%

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