Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Greek Pasta and Ground Meat

This meal takes about 30 minutes to prepare and another 25 in the oven but the great thing is that you can double the recipe and freeze half of it for another meal! It's originally a weight watchers recipe and is worth 6 points for anyone counting. It's a one dish meal. Everything you need for a balanced meal is in the one dish!

1/2 lb (approximately 230 grams) of pasta. The recipe calls for orzo but I used orzo and tubetti and I have a friend who uses rotini. So it's up to you, whatever you have on hand will do.
6 ounces of ground meat. This is why I doubled the recipe, it's hard to bring home just 6 ounces of meat...Usually its around a pound which is 16 ounces. The recipe calls for lamb which I had so I used it. My friend makes it with beef but you could use chicken or turkey or even pork. Any of them would work here.
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced (I keep the bottled stuff on hand, it's a real time saver)
1/4 cup chopped fennel. Not everyone likes fennel or even knows what it is but this is a great recipe to get to know it but if you would rather use another veggie then I would recommend either 1/2 a package of frozen spinach or 2 cups of fresh spinach. Broccoli would also work well here. But those are just the ones I like, you'll have to come up with your own favorite substitutions.
1 tsp dried mint
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 (14 oz) can of crushed tomatoes
3 tbsp of tomato paste. (I used 3/4 of a small can of tomato paste for a double recipe. You can freeze the rest of the can if you can't find tomato paste in the tube. The tube is so convenient, you can squirt out just the amount you need!)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 ounces light feta cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Spray an 8 inch square baking dish with nonstick spray and preheat the oven to 350.

Cook Pasta as per directions on box. Drain and put in a large bowl.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown and break up the ground meat. Add it to the bowl.

Add the onion, fennel, garlic, mint and oregano to the skillet and cook until the onion is soft, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato, tomato paste and cinnamon and cook until thickened, about 6 minutes.

Add the skillet mixture to the bowl. Toss in the feta and mix it all well. Pour it into the baking dish and sprinkle with the parmesan.

Bake for 25 minutes. Low fat, low sodium and delicious!

Want to take it to another level? Think about changing the herb/cheese/veggie combo to create other flavours. For example, Basil, oregano and thyme with fontina and provolone with zucchini and mushrooms would make a great Italian dish! It's only limited by your imagination.

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