Tuesday, September 29, 2009


If you've never tried Pastitsio, you're in for a real treat when you experiment with this recipe. This is a rich meat and pasta casserole that is a wonderful one-dish meal for a chilly winter evening. It requires several ingredients, but is quite easy to make. This definitely isn't a low fat or low calorie dish, but it is a terrific treat to enjoy on special occasions. Hearty and delicious. The beauty of this recipe (besides great taste) is it's ability to freeze (and defrost) so well, with no loss of flavour, making it ideal for once a month cooking.

To prepare Pastitsio, you will need to make a meat sauce, a white sauce, and prepare the pasta before combining everything to bake.

Prep Time: 1 hours, 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour


· 1 kg beef mince
· 1/2 kg macaroni for pastitsio (Traditionally, Greek macaroni no. 2 pasta is used but ziti or other tubular pasta, long or short, can be substituted)
· 1 large red onion finely cut
· 1 – 2 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
· 3 big ripe tomatoes, grated
· 2 tea-cups grated cheeses (caseri, kefalograviera, parmesan or halloumi)
· 1 tea-cup white dry wine
· 1/2 tea-cup olive oil
· salt, pepper
· 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinammon
· 1 cup finely chopped parsley

For the béchamel sauce (white sauce): In Greek: μπεσαμέλ, pronounced beh-sah-MEL
· 7-8 tbsp flour
· 6 tbsp butter or Olive Oil
· 4 tea-cups freshly-boiled milk
· 3 eggs
· salt and pepper
· cinammon
· 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs

Boil macaroni in salted water (don't let them boil too much), drain and return to the pot (but not over any heat) toss with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to prevent sticking, and set aside. Meanwhile put the finely chopped garlic and the onion in a frying pan saute them and when they wither, add mince, broken in pieces, along with salt, pepper and the ground cinammon. When it’s almost cooked sprinkle with wine and add the tomatoes and finally the parsley. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid has been absorbed. Mmmm...fragrant!

For the béchamel make your best efforts. Put butter in a pot and melt it in medium heat. Then add flour, stirring all the time with wire, not to let it stick. When they are mixed and a bit golden in colour, add slowly the boiled milk and stir into a thick white sauce (add some more flour if not thick enough). After sauce is creamy, remove from heat and allow it 2 – 3 minutes to cool. In the meatime beat three eggs in a bowl and after the white sauce cools add them to it stirring with the wire and return to the heat, whisking briskly until well blended. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to use. Butter a roasting pan and lay out half of the macaroni and put on top half of the grated cheese. Add mince (see that it goes everywhere), the rest of macaroni, the rest of cheese and carefully pour the home made béchamel over the top and use a spatula to spread evenly. Springle with cinammon and breadcrumbs and cook in the heated oven for about an hour at 180 C or until the sauce rises and turns golden brown.

Remove pan from oven and allow to cool before serving (Pastitsio is served warm, not hot). Cut into rectangular pieces

Eat it with your family or friends.

Notes: This dish can be prepared the day before, all the way to the béchamel sauce, refrigerated overnight, and cooked the next day after adding the sauce.

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