MUSHROOM MACARONI PASTITSIO This recipe is a lightened version of the classic meaty pastitsio but is still luscious, with layers of mushroom tomato sauce, pasta, cream sauce and grated cheese. Makes 4 servings 4 2 Tbsp. melted butter or vegetable oil 4 1 small onion, chopped 4 350 gr. small mushrooms, diced or coarsely chopped 4 1â„4 cup dry white wine 4 1 400-gr. can diced tomatoes, drained 4 Salt and freshly ground pepper 4 1â„2 tsp. dried oregano 4 Pinch of cinnamon 4 220 gr. large elbow macaroni 4 6 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese 4 3 Tbsp. bread crumbs 4 11â„2 Tbsp. butter 4 2 Tbsp. flour 4 11â„2 cups milk 4 Freshly grated nutmeg to taste Preheat oven to 175ÂºC. Heat 1 tablespoon butter or oil in a large skillet, add onion and saute over medium heat 5 minutes or until beginning to turn golden. Add mushrooms and saute 3 minutes or until beginning to brown. Add wine, tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano and cinnamon. Bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer over medium heat about 10 minutes or until sauce is thick. Boil macaroni in a large pot of boiling salted water 6 minutes or until just tender but slightly firm to the bite (al dente). Drain and rinse briefly. Transfer to a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon melted butter or oil and 4 tablespoons cheese. Prepare bechamel sauce: In a small saucepan melt 11â„2 tablespoons butter. Add flour and whisk over low heat 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in milk. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Simmer over low heat, whisking often, for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Butter an 8-cup casserole and sprinkle it with 1 tablespoon bread crumbs. Spread half of the macaroni mixture in casserole. Cover with mushroom-tomato sauce. Top with remaining macaroni. Spread bechamel sauce on top. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons crumbs and remaining 2 tablespoons cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until casserole begins to bubble and top is light golden. APPLE AND DATE NOODLE KUGEL This irresistible sweet kugel is studded with almonds, dates and butter-sauteed apples. For a lovely presentation, top each serving with a dollop of sour cream and accompany it with a few apple slices, either fresh or sauteed, and 1 or 2 dates. Makes 8 servings 4 400 gr. medium egg noodles 4 Pinch of salt 4 3 Golden Delicious apples (total about 700 gr.) 4 6 Tbsp. butter or margarine 4 1 tsp. ground ginger 4 6 Tbsp. sugar 4 1 tsp. ground cinnamon 4 1â„2 cup blanched almonds, chopped 4 1â„3 to 1â„2 cup diced dates 4 4 large eggs, separated Preheat oven to 175ÂºC. Grease a 33-cm. x 23-cm. x 5-cm. baking dish. Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water until barely tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain well. Transfer to a large bowl. Peel apples, halve, core and slice. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half of apples and saute over medium heat 5 minutes, turning once. Remove with a slotted spoon, add rest of apples to skillet and saute them. Return all apples to skillet. Sprinkle with ginger, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1â„2 teaspoon cinnamon and saute 1 minute, tossing apples to coat them. Transfer to a bowl. Add remaining butter to skillet and melt it over low heat. Add 3 tablespoons melted butter to noodles and mix well. Stir in almonds and dates. Whip egg whites to soft peaks. Beat in remaining 4 tablespoons sugar and whip at high speed until whites are stiff but not dry. Stir egg yolks into noodles. Stir in 1â„4 of whipped whites. Fold in remaining whites. Add half of noodle mixture to greased baking dish. Top with sauteed apples in an even layer. Top with remaining noodle mixture and spread gently to cover apples. Sprinkle with 1â„2 teaspoon cinnamon, then with remaining melted butter. Cover dish and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 to 20 minutes or until set. Serve hot. n Faye Levy is the author of 1,000 Jewish Recipes and The New Casserole.