Pastitsio: A Taste Of Greece

Posted on

Pastitsio, a beloved Greek dish, is a vibrant and comforting casserole boasting layers of seasoned ground meat, creamy béchamel sauce, and al dente pasta sheets. It’s a symphony of textures and flavors, perfect for a hearty family meal or a potluck showstopper.

This recipe breaks down the process into simple steps, ensuring your pastitsio comes out looking impressive and tasting divine.

Pastitsio
Pastitsio

Ingredients:

For the Meat Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef or lamb
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine (optional)
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • For the Béchamel Sauce:
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups whole milk, warmed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • For the Assembly:
  • 1 pound box of medium macaroni noodles (cooked according to package directions)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated breadcrumbs

  • Directions:

    1. Prepare the Meat Sauce: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground meat and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until browned. Drain any excess fat.
    2. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
    3. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, red wine (if using), beef broth, bay leaf, oregano, and cinnamon. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and let the sauce cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Remove the bay leaf before using.
    4. Make the Béchamel Sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk constantly for about 1 minute, until a golden roux forms. Slowly whisk in the warmed milk, a little at a time, until the sauce thickens and becomes smooth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, whisking frequently, until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
    5. Remove from heat and stir in the nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
    6. Assemble the Pastitsio: Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
    7. Spread a thin layer of meat sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Top with half of the cooked pasta. Spread half of the béchamel sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers with remaining meat sauce, pasta, and béchamel sauce.
    8. Top with breadcrumbs and the remaining Parmesan cheese.
    9. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Let cool slightly before serving.

    Nutrition Facts:

    (Please note that nutrition facts will vary depending on the specific ingredients you use. This is an approximate estimation per serving.)

    Calories: 500

  • Fat: 25g
  • Saturated Fat: 15g
  • Cholesterol: 80mg
  • Sodium: 500mg
  • Carbohydrates: 50g
  • Protein: 30g

  • Conclusion:

    Pastitsio is a crowd-pleasing dish that’s sure to leave everyone satisfied. Its versatility allows you to adjust the recipe to your preferences. You can use a combination of ground beef and lamb, or substitute with ground turkey or chicken for a lighter option.

    For a vegetarian twist, replace the meat sauce with a lentil or mushroom-based filling.

    No matter how you prepare it, pastitsio is a delicious and flavorful dish that embodies the essence of Greek comfort food.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

    1. Can I use a different type of pasta for pastitsio?

    Absolutely! While macaroni noodles are traditional, you can use penne, rigatoni, or even broken lasagna sheets.

    2. Do I have to use red wine in the meat sauce?

    The red wine adds depth of flavor, but it’s not essential. You can substitute it with extra beef broth or simply omit it altogether.

    3. Can I make pastitsio ahead of time?