Pastitsio

thumbnail recipe

(Greek Lasagna)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 14 oz. can tomato puree or sauce
  • 3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese (or Kefalotyri-Greek Cheese, if available)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pkg. #2 Macaroni for Pastitsio (500g)- available at Greek or ethnic groceries. You can substitute ziti or penne
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)

 

For the bechamel sauce:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 quart milk
  • 6 egg yolks, beaten lightly
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • a pinch of ground cinnamon

 

Begin with the Meat Filling:

  • Heat olive oil in a large saute pan. Add ground beef and cook over medium-high heat until pink color disappears, about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until they are translucent, about 5 minutes more.
  • Add tomato sauce, parsley, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and pepper and allow sauce to simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. While sauce is simmering put water on to boil for pasta.
  • Cook pasta noodles according to package directions and drain well. Rinse noodles in colander under cold water to cool them slightly.
  • Melt 1/2 cup butter in pasta pot and return cooked noodles to the pot.
  • Brush the bottom and sides of the lasagna pan with olive oil. Layer the bottom with half the pasta noodles and press down so that they are somewhat flat.
  • Add the meat filling in an even layer to the pasta. Top with remaining pasta noodles and flatten top layer as best you can.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees while you prepare the bechamel sauce.

 

Bechamel Sauce:

 

  • Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Using a whisk, add flour to melted butter whisking continuously to make a smooth paste or roux. Allow the flour/butter mixture to cook for a minute but do not allow it to brown.
  • Add milk to mixture in a steady stream, whisking continuously. Simmer over low heat until it thickens but does not boil.
  • Add 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese to mixture to add to the taste and thickening process.
  • Remove from heat and stir in beaten egg yolks. Add pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon.
  • Bechamel is thicker than gravy but not quite as thick as pudding. It should be somewhere in between.
  • Pour the bechamel over the pasta noodles making sure to pour sauce down in to the corners as well. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Bake in 350 degree oven for approximately 35-45 minutes or until the top is a nice golden color.