Pastitsio - Greek style pasta bake

by Tiggered

Pastitsio - layers of pasta and minced meat in tomato sauce, covered in bechamel, baked to crispy perfection

Pastitsio (sometimes spelled pasticcio, pasticio or pastichio) is a Greek variation of the Italian lasagna. It is composed of pasta (penne or similar), meat sauce with mediterranean spices and creamy bechamel, baked until golden. It tastes heavenly and is surprisingly easy to prepare. How to make pastitsio? Read on to find out.

Photos by Tiggered

Discovering pastitsio

Or how I got to cook my first pastitsio

Once upon a time I was in the mood to spoil my man rotten (well, I do get those ideas sometimes), so I asked him the time-hallowed question:

What would you like me to cook for you?  You can pick anything, anything at all.

And he said, fondly remembering some happy evening in a Greek tavern:

Pastitsio.

Panicking, I started browsing my books full of cooking lore and eventually marched off to the kitchen and produced...  something. 

That was some years and many pastitsios ago.  Now I know that panic is not a necessary ingredient.  Pastitsio is really easy to prepare.  It's yummy (goes without saying), even if you go for the budget friendly version.  Finished pastitsio looks quite impressive, especially if you serve it a day after preparing - those neat squares simply beg to be photographed, or at least ooohed and aaahed over.  I'm truly glad I've discovered it.  Time to share the recipe. 

 

What you're aiming at when preparing pastitsio

Looks yummy, doesn't it?
Looks yummy, doesn't it?

Have you ever tried pastitsio?

Pastitsio recipe

Pastitsio recipe


Prep time 30 min  -  Total time 60 min
Ingredients for 10 servings
1 packet of pasta (penne or similar)  • 1/2 kg minced meat (I use pork, I believe lamb is traditional)  • 1-2 onions  • 1 can of tomatoes  • 2-3 cloves of garlic  • 1 tsp cinnamon  • 1 tsp nutmeg  • 120 g butter or margarine  • 4-5 tbsp plain flour  • 2 cups of milk  • 3 egg yolks

Pasta

Cook pasta until al dente, strain


Meat sauce

Slice onions thinly, fry in little oil until they start sweating. Add finely chopped garlic. After another minute or so, add meat and cook until it starts to brown. Pour in tomatoes, season with cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Simmer for five more minutes.


Bechamel

Melt the butter or margarine, add flour and mix energetically until you have smooth paste. Add some milk, stir until smooth, add some more, stir again, repeat until there's no more milk. Season with salt and pepper, set aside. When your sauce cools a bit, add egg yolks and stir well.


Assembling pastitsio

Butter a baking tin (I'm using a large, rectangular one). Spread half of the pasta on the bottom, cover with meat sauce, followed by the remaining pasta. Pour bechamel on top, smooth out. Optionally, sprinkle with some grated cheese.


Baking

Bake in 180 degrees until bechamel turns brown and crispy. I always follow my nose, but it usually takes about 30 minutes.

Recipe  4.2/5 Stars (4 Votes)

Pastitsio vs Lasagna

Now that you know what pastitsio is all about, you can take part in the duel. Which one is better?

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Lasagna!
Guest on 01/12/2014

Love lasagna when it is the real thing!

Marko on 06/08/2012

For me, Lasagna is definite winner!

claire on 06/05/2012

Lasagna, 'cos I never tasted this pastitsio. If I do someday, I may change my mind. :)

Guest on 05/27/2012

Italian food is my favourite, but I am definitely going to be trying pastitsio, albeit a vegetarian version.

dustytoes on 05/22/2012

I've never even heard of pastitsio so I have to say lasagna, but this does sound very delicious.

Pastitsio!
othellos on 09/17/2014

I like both but I will vote for pastitsio since I grew up with it

Tolovaj on 07/28/2012

Actually both can be great and I don't see a definite winner here:)

SimplySara on 07/27/2012

I love love LOVE Greek food! We try to get to the Greek Festival in Sacramento every few years at least.

StephanieManning on 05/27/2012

Looks Yummy! I love lasagna but may have to try this!

chefkeem on 05/21/2012

I prefer pastitsio because of the bechamel sauce. It's richer and less acidic than the tomato sauce.

Pastitsio - budget friendly version

How to make pastitsio without breaking the bank

Recipe for pastitsio is really quite versatile, so you can make is as rich or as frugal as you wish.  Pasta to meat to bechamel proportions can be changed according to your needs.  If you have a dedicated carnivore to feed, you can make your meat part extra thick, but if you're cooking on the budget, there's no harm in using plenty of pasta to flesh your pastitsio out and downsizing other layers. 

Similarly, butter-based bechamel tastes best, but you can always substitute butter with margarine.  It won't hurt your pastitsio and it will make your grocery bill slightly more presentable.  Vegetable fats are gentler on your arteries, too.

While grated cheese is an optional extra, a cheese-free version is just as delicious. 

Pastitsio tips

Tip #1

If you want to use up the remaining egg whites, stir them into cooked pasta before assembling pastitsio. 

Tip #2

Pastitsio looks best when re-heated.  Pastitsio straight from the oven is delicious, but portions can get little messy.  For the best look, cut square servings from the cold dish and re-heat individually.

Tip #3

For a vegetable version, substitute meat with your favourite veggies. 

Wait until pastitsio cools - it's worth it!

Pastitsio straight from the oven
Pastitsio straight from the oven
Pastitsio after reheating
Pastitsio after reheating

More recipes from Tiggered - just in case you decide not to cook pastitsio after all :)

Updated: 02/18/2014, Tiggered
 
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Comments


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othellos on 09/17/2014

Nice recipe. A favorite family dish. I think that lamb mince meat is not used. It's either pork or beef and sometimes half and a half.

cmoneyspinner on 10/21/2013

Couldn't choose so I gave the recipe a 5 star rating. :)

Tiggered on 10/21/2013

Ah, yes, I may have presented an impossible choice here... :) Thanks for stopping by!

cmoneyspinner on 10/19/2013

I'm almost positive there's no such thing as bad Greek food. Which is better? Pastitsio or Lasagna. I refuse to choose!!! NO! I won't!! :)

Tiggered on 05/02/2013

Bon appetit :)

koffeeklatchgals on 05/01/2013

It looks heavenly. I absolutely have to try it.

Tiggered on 01/24/2013

Euxaristo poli :)

EliasZanetti on 01/24/2013

Yum! It is one of my favorite dishes! Kali Orexi to all those who are up to trying it out! It's delicious!

Tolovaj on 07/28/2012

I LOVE pasta!

PineSunsetLodge on 06/09/2012

Awesome. I used to cook in a Greek restaurant and I forgot how good this stuff is. It was one of the best sellers on the menu. :)


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