I’d venture to say that pastitsio is one of the most popular Greek dishes. It’s right up there with spanakopita as my most requested recipe, or the dish others tell me they order in Greek restaurants. Pastitsio is basically the Greek’s version of lasagna. It’s a layered dish of pasta (traditionally, bucatini/good ol’ Misko No. 2), warmly spicy meat sauce, and bechamel (I use cheese so technically a mornay). My yiayia usually added a few breadcrumbs on top (in addition to more cheese), so I do that, too.
If you’ve followed my blog long enough, you may remember the first time I posted pastitsio based on my grandma’s “recipe.” I’ve modified this recipe a bit since then (but if you want to see the original source, my yiayia, click here :-P). Pastitsio is a comfort food to me–not only because it’s pasta, slow cooked meatsauce and creamy bechamel, but because it reminds me of home.
If you can’t find kefalotyri or myzithra, just use a good salty cheese like pecorino romano or parmesan.
Source: Elly Says Opa
500 g. (16-18 oz.) bucatini pasta (penne or ziti works too)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup grated myzithra or other salty, slightly sharp cheese like Pecorino Romano
1 batch Greek meatsauce (recipe follows)
1 batch bechamel sauce (recipe follows)
2 Tbsp. kefalotyri or myzithra cheese (optional)
3 Tbsp. plain breadcrumbs (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375.
Cook the bucatini until barely al dente in a large pot of lightly salted water. Drain, and then mix well with the beaten egg, butter, and the myzithra cheese. Toss until butter has melted.
Place half the pasta mixture evenly across the bottom of a 3 qt. baking dish. Layer the meatsauce mixture over that, followed by the remaining pasta. Finally, pour the bechamel sauce over the noodles, and spread the mixture evenly. Top with the kefalotyri cheese and the breadcrumbs, if using.
Bake for about 45 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbly. Let it sit for 15 minutes before slicing.
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. ground beef (or lamb)
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
2 cups water or beef broth
1 cinnamon stick
5 or 6 whole allspice berries, or about 3/4 tsp. ground allspice (more or less to taste)
1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
In a large heavy bottomed pan, heat your olive oil. Add the onions and saute until tender. Add the beef , cooking until browned. Stir in the tomato paste and garlic and cook for a minute before adding the water/broth, cinnamon stick, allspice, parsley, bay, and salt (about 2-3 tsp.) and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer, mostly covered, for an hour, stirring occasionally (meatsauce should be very thick, but if necessary add a bit of extra water).
6 Tbsp. butter
2/3 cup flour
1 qt. 2% or whole milk
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
2/3 cup kefalotyri or other salty, slightly sharp cheese like Pecorino Romano
1 egg yolk
Melt butter in a large saucepan. Stir in the flour and make a roux, cooking for a few minutes until light golden brown. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Bring the mixture up to just barely a bubble. Continue cooking (and stirring) until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Add the nutmeg and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Off the heat, whisk in the cheese, eggs, and egg yolk.