“It’s soft, buttery smooth, with all the herb aromas and the tanginess of the fish. And oh that smell while it bakes!”
How are you? I haven’t written for a long time and I feel I’m neglecting you! Please don’t be mad! It’s just that wedding planning, some setbacks and a few house alterations have taken up a lot of my time, but most importantly a lot of my energy and mood. With only 35 days to go (WHAAAAAAAAAAT?) it’s been a whirlwind of emotions, arguments, decisions, dilemmas, anxiety, trips back and forth to my hometown, meetings and discussions, discussions, discussions…. Yeap! We have put ourselves in the negative side of wedding arrangements and I feel like we are sinking. Has this happened to anyone planning their wedding?
I have even lost the will to bake desserts and those who know me well will understand how worrying this is for me. I have real and strong feelings for all of this. I am REALLY getting married. Like, REALLY REALLY! Do you get me? Is anything going to change? I hope yes. Or not. Will I be of a different status now? Will I need to behave differently? Is every intense decision-making process going to be so difficult from now on? Both Nikos and me have lost it a bit – a lot- and we seem to have drifted a bit apart in the midst of all the preparations. As if we have chosen opposing war fields and, lately, whenever we need to decide on something we instantly get agitated and, raising our eyebrows, go deep in silly, egotistical and meaningless arguments. We end up losing the focus point and instead, we hurt each other- or are we so stressed that we get hurt and insulted easily? And does this mean we haven’t built a solid base we can depend on? Is our marriage going to be a disaster? Just bring me some cake, please!
Maybe we just need vacations! A weekend away to refresh and recharge our batteries. To boost our confidence and to reconnect. Or just a day off of wedding planning. I never thought I would say that. I always thought that this period of time would be the best and happiest of all. Am I doing anything wrong? Or had I just idealised it?
I hope I can pull myself together and start acting as the married woman I’m going to be! Mature and rising above any petty, ego challenging disputes. Right? Well, you know what? We need to get out of this vicious circle and start enjoying the process again. And in the spirit of getting our minds off of all this we invited friends over for Saturday, so we can play board games – as a mature married-to-be couple- unwind and relax. I am determined to bake a lovely dessert that I will share with you on my next post.
And for today, following my desire to put a stop to this dark and difficult phase, I will prepare my specialty. Tuna pastitsio! It’s inspired by our world famous Greek Pastitsio, which is pasta casserole with mince in tomato sauce and topped with cheesy bechamel sauce. I just substitute mince with tuna and the end product turns out lighter and a bit healthier. It even takes less time to prepare because of the canned tuna. It’s soft, buttery smooth, with all the herb aromas and the tanginess of the fish. And oh that smell while it bakes! My my! One piece is never enough! So whenever I bake my tuna pastitsio, I know I will need to exercise extra that afternoon and have a tiny weeny dinner.
The steps are similar to my Baked Spaghetti with Eggplants and Bechamel Sauce but I will guide you. Follow me!
WHAT YOU NEED:
For the Spaghetti:
- 1 packet of spaghetti (or any other pasta of similar shape)
- olive oil
- Just boil them, the usual way, drain them and drizzle with a little olive oil. Stir them and set aside.
For the Tuna tomato sauce:
- 2 cups olive oil
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 1 can of diced tomatoes
- 1/2 carton of tomato puree
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1- 2 garlic cloves, mashed or chopped
- a little basil (fresh and/or dried)
- a little thyme (fresh or dried)
- a little oregano (fresh and/or dried)
- a little spearmint (fresh or dried)
- a few cloves (δάφνη)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon chilly flakes (μπούκοβο)
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- a pinch of cumin
- 3 cans of tuna (in water) drained !!!
- In a pot, on medium heat, pour the oil and add the onions. Let them cook for 5′, stirring occasionally, until they become transparent and a little caramelised.
- Add all the tomato products, the herbs,the spices, the garlic, salt and pepper.
- Let it boil for 10′ or until the sauce is thick. Don’t forget to stir every now and then, because the onions can get stuck on the bottom and burnt.
- Add the tuna and stir. Let it cook for 5′ until there is no more than very little excess water. Turn the heat off.
For the Bechamel sauce:
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 tablespoons flour (I used whole wheat)
- 1/2 litre milk of choice (I used almond milk)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 teaspoonS nutmeg (or 1, it’s up to your liking)
- 100 gr grated cheese of choice, a little spicy or salty.
- Turn on heat to medium and in a pot, add the olive oil and butter. Let it warm until butter melts, for 1′.
- Add the flour and, using a whisk, stir swiftly and quickly until all of it is combined. Small balls might be formed and it’s ok.
- Turn the heat down to low.
- In small dosages, add the milk, pouring a little, stopping, whisking until combined and then pouring some more again. You NEED to keep whisking so that it doesn’t form small lumps. It must be smooth and silky. So, the very first pouring must be of about 2-3 tablespoons and whisked really quickly. The second can be 4 tablespoons, and after the third pouring, you can add half of the amount left and then, the other half. DON’T STOP WHISKING! (sorry for the shouty capitals!!). Anyway, if there still are some lumbs, don’t worry, noone will notice!!! The whole process will take you 3 minutes, until you have a thick, but runny, mixture.
- At this point, just stir softly, and add salt, pepper, nutmeg and cheese (keep very little for the topping). Stir until combined and turn it off. (CONGRATULATIONS!!! I know it’s hard work!)
Now, let’s combine all those delicacies we made:
- 100 gr grated cheese
- In a baking pan 35 * 25 cm (about 13*10 inches) drizzle a little olive oil and add 1/4 of the spaghetti.
- Sprinkle a little cheese and cover with another 1/4 of the pasta.
- Sprinkle with cheese and cover with the third 1/4 of the pasta.
- Pour the Tuna sauce.
- Cover with the remaining pasta and sprinkle a little cheese.
- Pour the Bechamel sauce to cover the whole pan and sprinkle with cheese.
- Drool and bake for 45′ at 220 C/ 430 F or until the crust is golden brown.
- Let it cool a bit and serve warm. Mmmmmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!!!
All the moaning and purring from your beloved ones trying this food will pay you back for all your effort. I know it seems difficult, but, really, it’s not. It’s just a long process but you will not regret the mess in the kitchen!!! He can do the dishes now!
Enjoy, my friends, as I am going to do with my future husband (whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?)!