I grew up with this extremely popular Greek dish that every mom I knew made a few times a year. It’s easy to prepare, although a little time consuming. My suggestion is to make a huge batch and freeze it in portions to be eaten on another day. Well worth the effort.
Definition: “Pastitsio is a creamy, cheesy baked pasta dish that is sometimes called the Greek lasagna; however, there are differences. While both are baked pasta dishes, pastitsio is traditionally made with large tubular pasta, a meat and tomato sauce, and topped with a thick béchamel sauce.”
1-1/2 cups chopped onions
Dash of ground cinnamon
2 pounds ground lamb (I use ground beef)
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups Italian plum tomatoes, chopped
1-1/2 pounds tubular pasta, such as ziti #2
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano
Brown chopped onions and meat in butter. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, spices and seasonings. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until liquid has been absorbed.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Sprinkle bread crumbs into a buttered 11 x 14 x 2-inch baking dish. Place a layer of pasta in the baking pan, then add half the Thin Cream Sauce. Add meat. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup grated cheese. Cover with remaining Thin Cream Sauce. Spread Thick Cream Sauce over the top and sprinkle it with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake for 1 hour, or until golden. Let stand for 15 minutes to cool, and cut into squares. (You cannot cut the Pastitsio easily unless you cool it for 15 minutes.) When ready to serve, reheat in hot oven.
Makes 12 servings
NOTE - This dish can be prepared a day in advance, adding the ‘Thick Cream Sauce’ just before baking the dish.
THIN CREAM SAUCE
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups hot milk
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 egg yolks
Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in flour and cook until mixture turns golden. Gradually stir in hot milk and cook, stirring until sauce is smooth and hot. In a small bowl, beat egg yolks, then briskly stir in 1 cup of hot milk mixture. Pour egg-milk mixture into remaining sauce. Stir and remove from heat without cooking the eggs.
THICK CREAM SAUCE
4 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Heat milk to a simmer; and set aside. In a bowl, beat eggs with flour. Gradually stir hot milk into the egg mixture. Return to saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is quite thick. Do not boil after the eggs have been added.
Recipe Source: The Complete Book of Greek Cooking
Photo Source: Wikipedia