A make-ahead Greek favorite, pastitsio is the Mediterranean version of baked meat pasta made with béchamel sauce. Yes, there is a little work involved in this dish, but it’s easier than making lasagna. The beef/lamb mixture is seasoned with a touch of cinnamon and the béchamel (made with low-fat Greek yogurt) has just a touch of nutmeg. Pastitsio sets up nicely so you can serve it in perfect squares. It’s very flavorful but not too spicy; satisfying, but not too rich.




  • 1 lb. rigatoni or ziti pasta
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs. 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
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 cups grated kefalotyri or parmesan cheese


  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups plain 2% Greek yogurt
  • 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • salt to taste


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Prepare a baking dish – 9″ x 13″ or larger, by brushing it with olive oil. Set aside.
  • 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.
  • Add the onion and cinnamon and cook until the onion is soft, about 5 more minutes.
  • Add the Worcestershire sauce and wine and cook until the wine begins to evaporate, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the tomato sauce, 2 cups of water, and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and taste. Adjust salt and pepper as needed.
  • 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.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions.
  • When the pasta is cooked, drain it and return it to the pot, off the heat.
  • Stir in 4 Tbsp. butter, 1 cup of cheese, and 2 beaten eggs until the pasta is well coated.
  • Spread half of the pasta in the prepared dish, cover with the meat, and top with the remaining pasta.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Remove from heat and whisk in the eggs, nutmeg and salt.
  • Pour the béchamel evenly over the pasta in the baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of cheese and the breadcrumbs.
  • Bake until golden, about 45 minutes.
  • Let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.
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