Shellfish is extremely popular considering Greece’s long coastline. Most of the fare is served simply with pointed seasonings. We prepared shrimp Saganaki. Onion and garlic. Oregano and smoked paprika. Tomatoes. That’s about it, and the shrimp are briefly sautéed in the hot sauce.
The special addition of feta and ouzo bring the dish to life. The briny cheese and anise bite of the spirit make a simple but bold statement. A chunk of grilled bread is a great accompaniment.
Pastitsio. Along with moussaka, these are the casseroles of Greece. Layers of eggplant, meat and potatoes are the foundation of the well-known moussaka. Pastitsio however is a pasta dish. Many times referred to as Greek lasagna.
Layers of long pasta with a hole in it (known as Greek #2) are the substance of the dish. The meat is actually a sauce like Bolognese. It’s simmered with onions and marinara plus cinnamon until most of the liquid is gone. Just a sprinkling of cheese goes in the layers.
A layer of thick bechamel – a white sauce – is spread on top to cover everything. After baking for 40 minutes, the top browns, and your taste buds are excited. The haunting aroma won’t leave you alone. The 20-minute wait for the pastitsio to cool enough to eat seems to take hours.
Our anticipation was well-rewarded when we saw the first large cut portion. It looked so good. In one class, a participant quickly announced, “I’ll take that one.” She was a happy camper.