Tonight I finally tried my hand at pastitsio and it was delicious! The only problem was I used rigatoni (had it on hand), which was too fat of a pasta. It made it hard to make the pieces look pretty/stay layered when sliced. Bucatini is the standard noodle used for this, but I couldn’t find any. Ziti or penne is a better choice than rigatoni.
Because I have made Greek meatsauce several times before (and my grandma–”yiayia” and I use similar methods/recipes for that meatsauce as we do for the one that gets layered into pastitsio), I asked my grandma just to tell me what she does for the bechamel, and if she prepares the pasta specially.
Then I put on my best translator/thinking cap (kind of hard when the woman uses HER glasses/cups as measures, and not actual measuring utensils!) and went to town on this.
I basically went by her “recipe” for the bechamel but added a little nutmeg (which is standard–I think maybe she forgot it) and a little less flour (hers called for a cup of flour for 1/2 stick of butter which I think would have been a clumpy mess, but then again, I tend to not be the best when it comes to making a roux or cream sauce).
The best thing is that I thought this would be SO high calorie when I entered it into Sparkpeople. I also thought I would get about 8 servings but we will get 10 easily, if not 12. It turns out to be about 400-600 calories (using extra lean ground beef and 2% milk) per serving depending on serving size and fat in the beef/milk. I do not recommend going to a lower fat than 2% milk, however.
Kefalotyri cheese can often be found at places like Whole Foods, and some grocery stores in the ethnic section. Myzithra is a little tougher to track down but it is, by far, my favorite cheese for pastas. If you can’t find either, I recommend using a strong, salty cheese like a romano.
Because part of blogging, for me, is about revamping things and adapting to your tastebuds, I have modified this recipe slightly since first posting it. You can get to the modified version here.