One of the glories of Greece is that its native cuisine is either thoroughly vegan or easily veganized. Dishes that are already vegan include dolmades(stuffed grape leaves), gigantes(lima beans in tomato sauce), as well as many others. Spanakopita and tiropita can be veganized by replacing the feta cheese with vegan cheese. Meatier dishes may be more difficult to veganize but there are myriad ways of doing this.
One of my favorites growing up was pastitisio, which is essentially baked ziti topped with bechamel sauce and ground beef. This dish is typically served during big holidays or large gatherings and I must warn you it isn’t a fast, easy recipe. Reserve this for special occasions.
One of the things that gives pastitsio its distinctive flavor is the allspice or cinnamon in the beef. For most recipes I find that cinnamon and allspice are interchangeable, hence I used cinnamon which I had on hand. This may not be true of everyone but I think most people won’t notice the difference. I also decided to use vegan ground beef from Trader Joe’s instead of using lentils like other Greek vegans like to use.
For this use a standard size lasagna baking pan, or something close to 12 inches by 16 inches and is 3.5 inches deep.
- 1 lb vegan ground beef(I used Trader Joe’s)
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or allspice(or more)
- 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup flour
- 4 cups cashews(soaked overnight)
- 2 cups veggie broth(optional)
- 4 cloves garlic
- black pepper
- pinch of salt
- 24 ounces of penne or ziti
- drizzle of olive oil(optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Saute all beef ingredients in saucepan until onions are a slightly browned.
- Cook pasta until it is almost al dente. Remember you’ll be baking it later so don’t over-boil it. Drizzle with olive oil(optional).
- Thoroughly blend cashews in blender. Mix in other bechamel ingredients and cook in sauce pan for a few minutes until everything is thoroughly mixed together.
- Thoroughly mix about 1/4 to 1/2 beef sauce mix with pasta and put in lasagna pan(spray bottom of pan with oil first).
- Put the rest of the beef sauce mix on top of the pasta/beef sauce mix.
- Put bechamel sauce on top of all the other layers.
- Cover with foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes in the oven at 350 F.
- Let it sit outside the oven for 10 minutes before serving to cool.
This was a hit when I last made it and I’m sure it will be in your home as well.