Originating from Greece, pastitsio is a classic dish that was reintroduced in the early 20th century by a Greek chef.

Although this recipe does branch off of an Italian version known as pasticcio, this version is quite different.

Unlike the previous dish, which was wrapped in a pastry, this one is layered with pasta, meat sauce and a creamy béchamel.

Cinnamon and cloves are added to the meat sauce, which is typical in Greek recipes. Usually, it is served as a main course alongside a salad.

The thick layer of béchamel on the top mixes with the meat sauce and pasta to create a fulfilling dish.

If you want to make this recipe for yourself, follow the steps below!

Recipe

Meat Sauce

  • Set a large pot over high heat. Add garlic and onion, cook for 2 – 3 minutes until onion is softened. Add beef and cook.
  • Add wine and and cook until the wine has mostly evaporated – about 3 minutes.
  • Add remaining Meat Sauce ingredients. Stir well, bring to simmer, then reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 45 min to 1 hour until liquid is mostly gone, stirring every now and then.
  • Remove from stove and cool.

Greek Béchamel

  • Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir for 1 minute.
  • While stirring, slowly pour half the milk in. It should turn into a wet paste. Then again, while stirring, pour in remaining milk – the paste should easily dissolve so it’s lump-free. If not, just whisk vigorously.
  • Cook, stirring so the base doesn’t catch, for 5 minutes or until thick enough so it coats the back of a wooden spoon thickly and you can draw a path across it with your finger.
  • Remove from stove. Stir in nutmeg, cheese and salt.
  • Leave to cool for 5 minutes. Then whisk in egg yolks quickly. Place lid on and set aside. If sauce cools and gets too thick to pour, just reheat on a low stove until pourable.
  • Cook the pasta per packet instructions, minus 1 minute.
  • Drain, then return to the pot. Leave to cool for 3 minutes, then stir through egg whites. Gently stir through crumbled feta.
  • Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F (all oven types).
  • Place pasta in a baking dish (33 x 22 x 7 cm / 9 x 13 x 2.75″), arranging them so they are all going in the same direction as best you can (for visual effect when sliced). Make the surface as level as you can.
  • Top with Meat Sauce, then smooth the surface.
  • Pour over Béchamel Sauce, then sprinkle over the cheese.
  • Bake 30 min or until crust turns golden.
  • Cool for at least 10 minutes so you can cut neat slices with the layers neatly visible. Serve!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves , finely minced
  •  2 red onions , finely chopped
  •  2 lb ground beef
  •  3/4 cup red wine
  • 800g / 28 oz canned crushed tomato
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes , crumbled
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  •  1 bay leaf
  •  1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or extra 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  •  3/4 tsp salt
  •  1 tsp black pepper
  •  100g / 7 tbsp butter , unsalted
  • 3/4 cup flour , plain/all purpose
  •  1 litre / 4 cups milk , whole/full fat best but low fat ok
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 oz Kefalotyri Greek cheese (sub Parmesan or Romano) , finely shredded
  • 2 egg yolks (egg whites are used in the pasta)
  •  14 oz Greek bucatini(sub ziti, penne)
  • 4 oz feta , crumbled
  • 2 egg whites (yolks used in Béchamel)

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