Pastitsio is a Greek pasta dish that is both fun to say and a joy to eat. I had only first learned of the dish after reading about it from Peter, one of my favorite Greek food bloggers. The dish somewhat reminds me of lasagna in that it’s a hearty blend of pasta, meaty sauce, and a creamy Bechamel sauce all baked into gooey deliciousness. However, the flavor and texture is quite distinct from lasagna but still has all the amazing comfort food properties that will have you making this over and over again.
The first major difference: tubular pasta instead of big sheets. I couldn’t find the authentic bucatini, so I used ziti. Then, the meat sauce isn’t a traditional bolognese, but a quicker-to-make tomato and meat based sauce highlighted by a very distinct spice blend that sounds odd but works beautifully: cinammon and allspice. This is all married by a very generous swim in a cheesy Bechamel sauce. The combination of all three is incredible and it will definitely not be the last Greek dish I make.
- Meat Sauce
- ~2 lbs of ground beef & pork
- 4 shallots
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic
- 3 Bay leaves
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 28 oz tomatoes
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp capers
- ground cayenne
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lb tubular pasta (I used ziti since I can’t find Bucatini)
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour
- 9 cups of whole milk (warm)
- 7 eggs (room temperature)
- 1 cup grated Romano/Parmesan
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1+ cup Romano for topping
Start with the meat sauce. Heat up a small bit of olive oil and brown the meat until cooked through. Drain and set aside.
Now, sauté the shallots over medium heat for roughly 8 minutes before adding the garlic and Bay leaves for 1-2 minutes more. Deglaze the pan with wine and add all of the remaining sauce ingredients. Return the meat to the pan, mix well, and simmer over low-medium heat until thick (maybe 10-15 minutes). Fish out the Bay leaves.
Now for the Bechamel. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted down, add the flour to make a roux, stirring regularly for about 3-5 minutes.
Now, whisk in the milk, taking care to break up any roux lumps. Yes, it is a lot of milk. No, it is not a typo. Heat this up to a boil and stir regularly. Keep cooking until thick.
Remove the pan from the heat. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs along with the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Slowly pour the eggs into the Bechamel and whisk constantly. Add the grated cheese and whisk that until incorporated. Set this aside.
During all of this, boil your pasta and drain per package directions.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Mix a generous scoop of Bechamel into the meat sauce. Do the same (two or three) for the pasta. This keeps everything nice and moist.
Get either a roasting pan or casserole dish (I used two small ones) out for putting this all together. Coat the bottom with Bechamel followed by half of your pasta. Pour on all of the meat sauce followed by the remaining pasta. I threw some grated Romano in there as well.
Pour the rmaining Bechamel on top of all I this and smooth it out. Top with remaining grated cheese for a tasty crust on top.
Transfer this to the oven for 45-60 minutes. The top should deepen in color and smell amazing. One time is up, remove from the oven and wait 20 minutes before you cut into it so things can firm up a little. Enjoy!