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What to Do With Left Over Spaghetti Sauce? Make Skillet Eggplant Pastitsio-Parmesan

I wasn't going to post this recipe but then decided, appearance aside (it's not photogenic), the meal is really good and a great way to serve eggplant as well as to use up any leftover spaghetti sauce you might have lingering in your refrigerator. Plus, the dish is easy, inexpensive, cooks quickly, and great for lunches, if you have any left. The recipe is a combination of the Greek dish, Pastitsio, which usually includes lamb and is topped with a Bechamel sauce, and eggplant Parmesan. This version uses spaghetti sauce made with ground turkey, not lamb, and has a lower-fat version of Bechamel seasoned with Parmesan cheese. The dish isn't heavy on meat, but it does include plenty of cheese, so is protein-rich. If you'd like a nicer looking dinner, you can certainly broil the Pastitsio-Parmesan before serving it. The broiler will turn the Bechamel golden and bubbly. I usually don't bother, because people are too hungry to wait. The aroma of the Pastitsio-Parmesan cooking is mouth-watering and tummy rumbling.

Skillet Eggplant Pastitsio-Parmesan

Skillet Eggplant Pastitsio-Parmesan -- Serves 4+

1-2 teaspoons of olive oil

3 Japanese/Chinese eggplant (the long, thin ones) washed, trimmed, and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds

1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

1 14-15 ounce can of diced tomatoes with garlic, basil, and oregano

2 cups of home-made spaghetti sauce made with ground turkey (stay tuned later for the recipe)

2-3 cups of macaroni cooked until barely soft (about 5 minutes)

1 1/2 cups of Italian blend shredded cheese

2 1/2 cups of low-fat milk

1/2 cup of flour

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg

1 teaspoon of dried parsley flakes

1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

In a large non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced eggplant and garlic powder and saute the eggplant until it softens, releases much of its moisture, and browns a bit. Stir in the diced tomatoes and spaghetti sauce and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer, partially covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in the macaroni and let the mixture simmer about 5 minutes more or until the macaroni softens and absorbs some of the moisture from the sauce.

While the eggplant mixture is cooking, in a microwave-safe measuring container (i.e., a large Pyrex measure), whisk the milk, flour, salt, nutmeg, and parsley together. Microwave the mixture in one-minute increments, whisking after each minute, until the mixture thickens. Whisk in the Parmesan cheese and microwave the mixture a little more (15-30 second increments), if necessary, to further thicken the sauce.

After the eggplant/macaroni mixture has cooked and thickened, turn the heat down to low, and sprinkle the top evenly with the Italian cheese blend. Let the cheese melt a few minutes (put a lid on top of the skillet to speed the process) and then carefully pour on the Bechamel sauce. Some of the red sauce will bubble up through the Bechamel. Don't worry. It will taste fine. If you'd like a crunchy, browned top, heat the broiler, and put the skillet under the broiler for about 5 minutes, watching it carefully to ensure the Bechamel browns but doesn't burn (the burning part happens fast!). Or just eat the Eggplant Pastitsio-Parmesan out of the skillet without broiling the top. It's quite good "as is," and you're less likely to burn your mouth, which you might do if you try to eat it hot from the broiler, which will be really, really tempting.

Skillet Eggplant Pastitsio-Parmesan

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