Pastitcio

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The Greek version of baked meat pasta with béchamel sauce is called Pastitcio. That’s a fun word to say. Come on, channel your inner Greek and say it. Pas-teet-see-o!

I must admit that until last night I had never made (or eaten) this traditional Greek dish. I don’t know why… except that I do tend to shy away from recipes that include meat and pasta and cheese and béchamel sauce because they just sound too rich. But the April issue of Food Network Magazine featured Pastitcio in a Greek Easter Feast story and, of course, their photo looked amazing (you know, I am all about the picture). We had company coming for dinner last night and I liked the idea that this recipe could be made ahead and, according to the magazine, “is great for a crowd”. When I discovered the béchamel was actually made out of low-fat Greek yogurt I was sold.

There was a little work involved in this dish, but it was easier than making a lasagna. The beef/lamb mixture is seasoned with a touch of cinnamon and the béchamel has just a touch of nutmeg. Pastitcio sets up nicely so you can serve perfect squares to your guests. It is very flavorful but not too spicy, satisfying but not too rich. I would have to agree with the magazine… this is a crowd pleaser!

All you need alongside is a simple salad and some good bread. And, of course, a nice bottle of wine (thank you, Lynn and Norm for bringing over the Cougar Crest!).


Pastitcio
 
The Greek version of baked pasta with meat and béchamel sauce - seasoned with a touch of cinnamon. Adapted from Food Network Magazine Recipe, April 2012.
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish
Serves: 8 to 10
Ingredients
  • FOR THE PASTA
  • 1 pound rigatoni or ziti pasta
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1½ pounds ground beef, lamb or a combination
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt and pepper (more to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 cups grated kefalotyri or parmesan cheese
  • FOR THE BECHAMEL
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 3 cups plain 2% Greek yogurt
  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare a baking dish - 9" x 13" or larger, by brushing it with olive oil. Set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add the meat and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until it is browned, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the onion and cinnamon and cook until the onion is soft, about 5 more minutes.
  5. Add the Worcestshire sauce and wine and cook until the wine begins to evaporate, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the tomato sauce, 2 cups of water, and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and taste. Adjust salt and pepper as needed.
  7. Stir in the parsley and continue to cook until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Stir in 2 Tbsp. of breadcrumbs. Remove from heat and set aside.
  8. Meanwhile, prepare the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions.
  9. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and return it to the pot, off the heat.
  10. Stir in 4 Tbsp. butter, 1 cup of cheese, and 2 beaten eggs until the pasta is well coated.
  11. Spread half of the pasta in the prepared dish, cover with the meat, and top with the remaining pasta.
  12. Prepare the béchamel. In a medium sauce pan, melt 4 Tbsp. of butter over low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking, for 1 minute more.
  13. Whisk in the yogurt and 1 cup of water. Gently simmer, stirring often, for about 5 minutes more. (Do not let the mixture come to a full boil).
  14. Remove from heat and whisk in the eggs, nutmeg and salt.
  15. Pour the béchamel evenly over the pasta in the baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of cheese and the breadcrumbs.
  16. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes.
  17. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

 

6 comments

  1. Ann clarkin says:

    Don’t forget to grease pan w Cisco first.

  2. Ann clarkin says:

    Pastitcio is made with 1 1/2 pounds ziti, 1 1/2 chop meat, 1 onion, brown chop meat w chop onion, season w salt,pepper,cinnamon, nutmeg add 3-4 tbsp of tomato paste, in pan put 1/2 pasta then chop meat then rest of pasta. For sauce 5 eggs beaten till fluffy 1 qt whole milk. 3 1/2 tsp farina, 1/2 stick butter, salt, melt butter in milk add farina till thickened, turn off gas, add a little milk mixture to eggs then slowly add the rest of eggs to milk & farina stir constantly till thickened – pour over pasta make sure it goes all the way down in the pasta use a pan a little bigger than 9×13 – 350 about 1 hour

  3. Polly Davis says:

    This was the Greek food festival wwekend in Little Rock. Greek food rocks!

  4. […] Like this recipe? You might also like these: White Wine Spaghetti Italian Sweet & Sour Pork with Pappardelle Pastitcio […]

  5. Dorothy Fairman says:

    Hi, Mary! Need to know if you used rigatoni or ziti in the pasticio??? Sounds great. I have my, “Rosie”, helping cook and I think this will be on my menu this week! I love pasta…and it is starting to show! 🙁 Blessings, Dorothy

    • MaryMiller says:

      Hi, Dorothy – I was surprised when I could NOT find ziti pasta at QFC. I used rigatoni instead – the main difference between the two are the ridges on the rigatoni… better to soak up the sauce! 🙂 I just ate a leftover piece of pastitsio for my lunch – warmed up perfectly in the microwave. I am sure this would freeze well, too. Let me know how your’s turns out!

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