Otherwise known as the Greek lasagna, pastitsio is a dish that is rich and full of flavor. Usually made with some kind of pasta that has a hole in it, this version uses a smaller size, although you can use up to the size of penne. If you can, find Greek pasta as it has a slightly different flavor than traditional store bought brands.

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Ingredients – Sauce
1 onion, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1400g ground meat*
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup pastini
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp ground oregano
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cups water

3 cups Kefalogaviera cheese, grated
1 package pastitsio pasta

Ingredients (Bechamel)
1 cup butter, melted
2 cups flour
10 cups milk
4 eggs, room temperature
pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare the sauce by adding the olive oil into pot and heating. Brown the onion for 3 minutes and add the garlic and spices and brown for an additional minute. Add the wine and cook until it is completely absorbed. Add the ground meat and cook thoroughly. Add the tomato paste, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, pastini and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce thickens (30 to 45 minutes). In the meantime, prepare the pasta according to package directions. Cook for 8 minutes, drain and set aside. (The pasta should not be fully cooked as it will cook again in the oven.)

Prepare the Bechamel by melting the butter. Once the butter is melted, remove it from the heat and mix in the flour to make a roux (will form a clumpy, glue like mixture). Slowly add the milk a little at a time and stir into the roux. (By adding it a little at time, you avoid clumps.) Continue until the roux becomes liquid (approximately 4 cups). Stir in the remaining milk and the nutmeg. Return to a low heat and continuously stir until the sauce thickens. Once thick, add the Parmesan cheese and stir in until melted. Remove from heat. Beat the eggs and slowly pour in some of the sauce to temper them. Once the eggs have warmed up, whisk into the sauce.

In a pan, layer some sauce, then the drained pasta, and cover with a layer of grated cheese. Cover with the remaining meat sauce and another layer of grated cheese. Cover with the bechamel and then with another layer of cheese. Cook in a preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours or until crust is golden brown. Allow to rest for at least 1 hour before cutting. Makes a 14” x 16” pan.

*You can use a combination of beef and lamb, beef and veal, or a single type. Combining the meats, however, add a depth of flavor.

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