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Pastitsio recipe or greek pasta bake feat

Pastitsio Recipe (Greek Pasta Bake)

The Pastitsio (or Pastichio) is a famous Greek pasta bake with a spiced meat sauce and a silky béchamel. It’s ideal as a delicious Sunday dinner and it also freezes very well.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Greek, Mediterranean
Keyword Bake, casserole, pasta, Pastitsio
Prep Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 9
Calories 778 kcal
Author The Hungry Bites

Ingredients

For the meat sauce:

  • 2.4 pounds (1100 grams) minced beef
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 large onion, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup dry wine (red or rose)
  • 1/4 cup thick tomato paste
  • 2 cups pureed tomatoes (canned or fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the pasta:

  • 1 package 1 pound/450 grams pastitsio pasta No2, bucatini pasta, or penne
  • 1 1/2 cups (120 grams) grated cheese (cheddar, Parmigiano Reggiano, Greek Kefalotiri)
  • 2 teaspoons fine salt (for the water for the pasta)

For the béchamel sauce:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) olive oil (or butter)
  • Freshly ground nutmeg (about 1/3 of a nutmeg seed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt
  • 6 cups (1500 grams) milk, warm
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups (120 grams) grated cheese (cheddar, Parmigiano Reggiano, Greek Kefalotiri)

Equipment:

  • One deep casserole dish about 14inches x 10 inches 36cm x 25cm and 2.5 inches (6.5 cm) high or one round pan 14 inches (35cm) in diameter and 2.5 inches (6.5 cm)

Instructions

  1. Make the meat sauce: Heat a deep pan over high heat and add the oil and the minced beef. Let it brown, without stirring, and when the meat is no longer red, stir with a wooden spatula and break any meat lumps. Cook until all the juices have evaporated, reduce heat to medium/high and add the onion the carrot, the bay leaves, the cinnamon stick, the allspice and the cloves. Stir for 5 minutes and add the wine. Wait for 1 minute for the alcohol to evaporate and add the tomato paste, the pureed tomatoes, the sugar, the salt and the pepper. When it starts to boil again, reduce heat to low and simmer until almost all of the liquids have evaporated (about 30 minutes). Remove and discard the bay leaves and the cinnamon stick.
  2. In the meantime, make the pasta: Cook the pasta in a pot with salted water, until al dente, according to the packaging directions.
  3. Drain the pasta well, mix in the grated cheese and transfer about two-thirds of the pasta to the casserole dish. Level with a spoon and cover with the meat sauce. Level the meat sauce with the back of a spoon and spread the rest of the pasta uniformly over the meat.

  4. Preheat your oven to 374°F (190°C)
  5. Make the béchamel sauce: Cook the flour with the oil in a large pot stirring continuously with a whisk until it starts to smell nutty. Remove from the heat and add the cinnamon, the nutmeg, and the salt. Whisk to combine and add the warm milk gradually, whisking constantly to prevent it from forming any lumps. At first it will thicken, but as you continue to add the milk it will loosen up. When all the milk is added, return to the stove and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens. When it starts to bubble, remove from the heat and let it sit on your counter for 5 minutes to cool a little. Add 1 cup of the grated cheese and the eggs and whisk quickly to combine.
  6. Pour the béchamel sauce over the pasta, level with a spatula and sprinkle the surface with the remaining grated cheese.
  7. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the top is golden brown with dark spots all over the surface. Let it rest for 20-30 minutes before slicing for easier serving. Eat!

Recipe Notes

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  • The meat sauce can be cooked from the previous day and kept refrigerated.
  • This is a large recipe, about 9-10 servings. If you want a smaller quantity, it may be better to divide the pastitsio into two smaller pans and freeze the one for later use.
  • For the grated cheese I use a mix of the cheeses listed in the ingredients (but you can also use your favorite type).
  • Instead of ground allspice and ground cloves you can use 5 allspice kernels and 5 whole cloves but you’ll have to fish them out of the meat sauce after it’s done.

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