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Simple, Inexpensive Christmas Dinner: Quick Turkey Pastitsio

Need a simple, low-cost, low-fuss, yet still special Christmas meal? Try Turkey Pastitsio with a salad and bread. Simple, great-tasting, inexpensive, and filling, this is a dish you'll want to keep in your file. The recipe I'm reposting is a streamlined version of pastitsio that uses low-fat turkey in the sauce rather than the traditional ground beef or lamb and that has an easy ricotta topping rather than a fussy bechamel sauce. The pastitsio is a satisfying, low-cost meal in a dish, even with the ground turkey and low-fat ingredients. The baking casserole—full of spices, tomatoes, garlic, and cheese—will fill your kitchen with incredible smells. If you don’t have the ziti or penne pasta, don’t worry. Use any medium-smallish pasta you have on hand—elbow macaroni or shells, for example. The pastitsio is really is special enough for Christmas, and, unlike many Christmas meals won't overtax the cook. Go for it!

turkey pastitsio
Simple, Inexpensive Christmas Dinner: Quick Turkey Pastitsio

Quick Turkey Pastitsio -- Serves 6+

16-24 ounces of ground turkey (93 percent lean)

1 teaspoon of olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

½ teaspoon of dried thyme

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

¼ teaspoon of allspice

½ teaspoon of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of dried parsley

½ -1 teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon of pepper

1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes

½ cup of red wine or water

8-12 ounces of ziti or penne pasta

15 ounces of part-skim ricotta cheese

2 eggs

½ cup of fat-free Greek yogurt

½ teaspoon of nutmeg

½ cup of grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup of shredded Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet over medium high heat, sauté the ground turkey and onion in the olive oil until the turkey is brown and the onion is softened—about 10 minutes. Add the oregano, thyme, cinnamon, allspice, garlic powder, and dried parsley and stir to combine everything. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and wine or water and let the mixture simmer for about 30 minutes. While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta as directed on the package but until just barely soft, and then drain it. Also preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl or the food processor, blend the ricotta cheese, eggs, yogurt, nutmeg, and the grated cheese until smooth. Add the cooked pasta to the prepared dish. Pour the sauce mixture over the pasta. Spread the ricotta mixture on top of the sauce as evenly as you can, and sprinkle the shredded cheese on top of the ricotta mixture. Bake the casserole for 45-60 minutes or until the top is golden brown and bubbly. Let the pastitsio cool for 10-15 minutes before serving it.

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