Pastitsio is to Greeks what lasagne is to the Italians and what mac and cheese is to Americans – intensely aromatic, rich and gooey layers of tubular pasta in a hearty sauce consisting of tomatoes and ground lamb meat, topped with béchamel sauce and, ideally, sprinkled with grated kefalotyri or kasseri cheese.
It is a perfect dish for a cold winter night with its intense flavours of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. In Greece, pastitsio is often enjoyed in February, during the weeks that precede Lent, and on the Sunday of Apokreos, the last day on which the observant are allowed to eat meat.
Here’s my recipe. It’s traditionally made with penne pasta, but I substitute with our own egg or wholemeal pasta and it’s just as delicious. Enjoy!
- 2 1/2 cups Uncooked Olympian egg or wholemeal pasta
- 2 tbsp Butter, melted
- 1 cup Grated Parmesan cheese
- 680 g Mince
- 1 medium Onion
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 can Tomato sauce
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1 cup Shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup Butter, cubed
- 2/3 cup Farina plain flour
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Pepper
- 4 cups Milk
- 2 large Eggs, beaten
- Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Toss with butter; add grated Parmesan cheese. Transfer to a greased 13x9-in. baking dish.
- Preheat oven to 350°. In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat 8-10 minutes or until beef is no longer pink, breaking beef into crumbles; drain. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes longer. Stir in tomato sauce, salt and cinnamon; heat through. Spoon over pasta. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese.
- In a large saucepan, melt butter. Stir in Farina Plain Flour, salt and pepper until smooth; gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 1-2 minutes or until thickened.
- In a small bowl, whisk a small amount of hot mixture into eggs; return all to pan, whisking constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 2 minutes. Pour over beef mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
- Bake, covered, 20 minutes. Bake, uncovered, 30-40 minutes longer or until golden brown.