"Pastitsio is an all time favourite in Greece. Especially with children."
My children adore this recipe and are always asking when am I going to make pastitsio again.
It is like the Greek version of lasagne, layers of pasta and mincemeat, topped with a creamy bechamel sauce. The pasta used for this meal is very different though. It is like long tubes of macaroni, as long as spagetti, which tastes wonderful with the mincemeat and bechamel sauce blending into the gaps and the insides of the pasta.
Once a slice is cut the twirling macaroni gives the finishing meal a lovely, layered look. This meal has also been called pasta bake. (macaroni pie)
This pasta recipe is a great meal to make for a casual dinner with friends, you can make the meal ahead of time, and then, when ready, put it in the oven to bake before serving. Ideal when you don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.
Serve with a fresh salad.
Scroll to the bottom of the recipe for a quick and easy variation to this dish.
500g pastitsio or macaroni pasta
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon parsley
2 tablespoons butter
2 large fresh tomatoes, grated (or 3/4 tin of tomatoes, chopped)
1 or 2 egg whites
2 teacups grated cheese
Fry onion in butter until soft.
Add mince, fry until brown, breaking up any lumps of mince so it is all small.
Add the grated carrot and parsley and mix in.
Add the tomatoes, which have been grated or put in a blender.
Add salt and pepper. Add some water - about 100-150ml.
Cover and leave to simmer for half an hour.
When ready, cool slightly and stir in the egg whites.
Boil the pasta until al dente. Drain.
Meanwhile you can make the bechamel sauce.
To make the bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a large saucepan.
Add the flour and mix in well for a while until it goes a bit yellow but doesn't burn.
Add a little milk, mix it in well and slowly add all the rest of the milk.
(At the start use a wooden spoon to mix the flour with the butter, then change to a whisk when adding the milk.)
Whisk thoroughly to make sure there are no lumps.
As you add the milk, have it on a low heat then once all the milk has been added and there are no lumps, you can increase the heat slightly to heat the milk and stirring regularly, the sauce will thicken.
When you add the milk, this is the time that it is possible for the sauce to get lumps in it, especially if you haven't made this sauce before.
To rectify, take the saucepan off the heat, and use an electric hand mixer on the sauce (in the saucepan), until you have a smooth sauce and all the lumps are gone. Return to the heat and warm until it thickens.
Add a little salt and pepper and the nutmeg, be careful not to add too much nutmeg - it really only needs a little amount to give the sauce a wonderful flavour. About 3 quick grates of a fresh nutmeg or 3 small pinches of dried nutmeg.
Nutmeg is only used in bechamel sauce when made to go with pastitsio. If you are using this recipe to go with another meal, you can omit the nutmeg.
When the sauce thickens, leave to cool a while, then add 2 egg yolks, and stir in to the sauce.
In a large deep baking tray, place half the pasta in the tray.
Sprinkle 1 cup cheese over the pasta.
Spread all the mincemeat over the pasta evenly.
Finish with the rest of the pasta, flatten out over the mincemeat.
Sprinkle over the pasta the other cup of cheese.
Pour bechamel sauce all over the top of the pasta and ensure it covers all the pasta.
Dot little pieces of butter over the top of the sauce to give it colour.
At this stage you can leave the pastitsio to bake later or bake straight away.
Bake in a moderate oven for approximately 30-45 minutes, depending on whether the food is already hot or not.
The sauce should have a lovely golden colour.
As with all baked macaroni recipes, even if the food is hot, baking it will help set the layers of food.
Click here to buy Pastitsio pasta and other Greek Pasta for recipes such as Macaronada and Yiouvetsi!
You can now buy all your favorite Greek cheeses, such as Kefalotiri, Mizithra, Kasseri, Kefalograviera, Feta and Manouri online here!
If you're looking for a similar dish but don't have the time to cook this now, check out Tiffany's site Quick And Easy Dinner for her quick and easy lasagna with meat sauce. Ideal for mid week meals that taste great!