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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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)