Originally created 03/02/05

Low-fat Greek lamb casserole



Greek lamb casserole, a savory one-dish dinner, is a lighter interpretation of pastitsio, a Greek pasta casserole.

The original is topped with a heavy cream sauce, but this version bakes under a "heart-healthy" mixture of yogurt, egg whites and flour. Lean lamb shoulder and eggplant cooked with a minimal amount of oil help keep the fat content of the dish low.

The recipe is from "Cooking Smart for a Healthy Heart" (Reader's Digest, 2004, $29.95). The cookbook has some 150 flavorful and healthful recipes that are offered to help people "to lose weight and live longer" - but not at the cost of tasteless meals.

The editors maintain that healthy and delicious are not a contradiction in terms. To round out the menu when you serve this dish, they suggest a green bean and red onion salad as a side dish; for dessert, low-fat vanilla pudding with toasted almonds on top.

Greek Lamb Casserole

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 onion finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

8 ounces eggplant, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks

¾ cup water

10 ounces well-trimmed lamb shoulder, diced

28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

¾ cup chopped fresh mint

¾ cup chopped fresh dill

¾ teaspoon salt

12 ounces orzo

1 cup plain low-fat yogurt

¼ cup all-purpose flour

2 large egg whites

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add eggplant and water, and cook, stirring frequently, until eggplant is tender, about 5 minutes. Add lamb and cook until no longer pink, about 3 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes, ½ cup of mint, ½ cup of dill, and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook 20 minutes, or until lamb is tender.

Meanwhile, cook orzo according to package directions. Drain.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine yogurt, flour, and egg whites in small bowl.

Stir drained orzo into lamb mixture. Spoon mixture into 11-by-7-inch baking dish. Cover and bake 10 minutes. Uncover dish and spoon yogurt mixture over top. Bake until pasta is piping hot, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup mint and ¼ cup dill on top and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 425 cal., 8 g total fat (2.5 g saturated), 38 mg chol., 543 mg sodium, 65 g carbo., 6 g dietary fiber, 25 g pro.

Cook's tip: To make this dish ahead, bake it, let it come to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate. To reheat, spray foil with cooking spray,cover, and reheat in a 300 F oven until heated through, about 30 minutes.