Pastitsio Recipe

Seeking a traditional Greek dish or a modern favorite? Check out this Pastitsio recipe that will be both, yet none of it!

Pastitsio-recipe-2-SunCakeMomTraditions are one of the weirdest habits of ours and they get stranger by every passing day. We tend to forget that traditions are mostly no other things but requirements of everyday life of a bygone era.

The celebrations our forebearers, held at certain times of the year, weren’t just randomly picked dates from the calendar but stood to mark an occasion of importance in their life. The origin of some events we still keep in mind like Thanksgiving Day, 4th of July or π day but the origin of most get very murky very quick.

Christmas shopping, Easter egg hunts or Halloween trick or treats are probably the most famous ones that many of us have not the faintest clue where they come from, yet we’ve integrated them into our modern daily life in a way it makes sense to us, today.

Although, it seems controversial but the ability to change and adapt to different eras and ideas, is the key for a tradition to survive and prosper through generations. The question is, if something that’s so different from its original goal, is worth saving though, open to debate on.

Apparently, we don’t stop doing something because it simply doesn’t make sense anymore but rather because we find something better to do in its place. After all who could say stop for having turkey or to barbecues, not to mention unrestricted access to sweets and desserts, just because the winter solstice doesn’t make a lasting impact on our life?

As our traditions change to reflect the time, we live in so do the traditional dishes that reflect our everyday life. Recipes change not just because the ingredients aren’t available anymore but because alternative options reach our kitchens that turn out to be better suited to our needs.

Pastitsio is a Greek, baked pasta dish with ground meat and béchamel sauce. The dish can be traced back its linage to the 16th century Italian Pasticcio where the word itself was used to describe “any manner of pastie or pye”.

To think about pastitsio as pastry or pie may sound ubiquitous but modern pastitsio has very little to do with the original one that was a filo dough, wrapped with a variety of meat, offal, eggs, cheese, and pasta. It definitely did not include béchamel nor was recognizable by the neatly stacked tubes of pasta that the dish is well known of for today.

It took a French trained Greek chef to turn the dish inside out, stripping its old filo cape off and let its true identity shown to the world. To keep the meat filling from naked exposure and try to stay within the visual boundaries of the original dish, a layer of bechamel was added on top and roasted to golden brown perfection in the oven.

Although Pastitsio has kept its main identity, namely the meat and pasta in a layered form, few who called for the dish in its ancient home would recognize it in its modern form. Probably many would call for it to be named something else entirely, denying any relation whatsoever to the original idea but we, who learnt to love it this way, couldn’t bear to have it not just with another name but any other way. At least for now.Pastitsio-recipe-3-SunCakeMom

Ingredients

Meat Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons / 30ml Cooking oil
  • 1 medium / 200g Onion (diced)
  • 1 teaspoon / 5g Salt
  • 3 cloves / 9g Garlic
  • 2 lb / 1000g Ground meat
  • ⅞ cup / 200ml Red wine
  • 29 oz / 800g Tomato puree
  • 1 piece / 3g Bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon / 2.5g Cinnamon (or stick)
  • 1 teaspoon / 2.5g Clover
  • 1 teaspoon / 3g Black pepper

Béchamel sauce

  • 7 tablespoons / 100g Butter
  • ⅞ cup / 110g Flour
  • 4 cups / 1000ml Milk
  • 1 teaspoon / 5g Salt
  • 1 cup / 100g Parmesan
  • 2 medium / 40g Egg yolk

Pasta

  • 1 lb / 400g Pasta
  • 4 oz / 120g Feta cheese
  • 2 medium / 60g Egg white

Topping

  • ½ cup / 125g Mozzarella

Kitchen utensils

  • 7½” x 12″ / 19cm x 30cm Casserole dish

How to make Pastitsio

Meat Sauce

  1. Sauté (stir-fry) diced onion and salt in hot oil until it gets a glassy / translucent look, about 5 minutes.Red-onion-skillet--gp--SunCakeMom
  2. Mix in garlic and sauté until garlic gets fragrant, about 2 minutes.Red-onion-skillet--gp--2-SunCakeMom
  3. Mix in the ground meat and stir-fry until browned.Red-onion-ground-meat-wine-skillet--gp--2-SunCakeMom
  4. If any wine is used, add it now and cook away most of the liquid, about 10 minutes.Red-onion-ground-meat-wine-skillet--gp--SunCakeMom
  5.  Add tomato puree, bay leaf, cinnamon, clover and black pepper.Ground-meat-tomato-sauce-skillet--gp--SunCakeMom
  6. Place the lid on halfway and cook on low to medium heat until the liquid reduced and the sauce thickened.Ground-meat-tomato-sauce-skillet--gp--2-SunCakeMom

Béchamel sauce

  1. Melt butter in a skillet then mix in the flour and salt.Bechamel-sauce-butter-flour-milk--gp--SunCakeMom
  2. Vigorously whisk the slowly poured milk in. It will be lumpy at first but keep whisking. (Heating the milk beforehand helps keep it from lumping up if our whisking technique is inadequate.)Bechamel-sauce-butter-flour-milk--gp--3-SunCakeMom
  3. Whisk egg yolk in a bowl.Egg-yolk-whisk--gp--SunCakeMom
  4. On medium heat, whisk the egg yolks into the Béchamel for a minute or so. It should thicken the sauce further.Bechamel-sauce-butter-flour-milk-egg-yolk--gp--2-SunCakeMom
  5. Mix in the grated cheese. Season with salt, black pepper and nutmeg if desired.Bechamel-sauce-butter-flour-milk-egg-yolk-parmesan-cheese--gp--3-SunCakeMom

Pasta

  1. Cook pasta a couple of minutes, less than we’ve been instructed on the packing.Cook-pasta-drain-penne--gp--2-SunCakeMom
  2. Run it under cold tap water for half a minutes then drain.Cook-pasta-drain-penne--gp--SunCakeMom

Assembly

  1. Mix pasta with crumbled up feta cheese and egg whites then lay it to the bottom of the baking dish. If we don’t have pastitsio pasta but really into the look, spend some time arranging the pieces, otherwise pouring the pasta into the dish will do just as well.Pastitsio-recipe-Process-SunCakeMom
  2. Continue layering with the meat sauce. (Remove whole spices and herbs like cinnamon stick, bay leaf, black pepper or cloves.)Pastitsio-recipe-Process-2-SunCakeMom
  3. Spread the Béchamel sauce on top.Pastitsio-recipe-Process-3-SunCakeMom
  4. Sprinkle optional mozzarella on top.Pastitsio-recipe-Process-4-SunCakeMom
  5. Put it into the middle rack of a 350°F / 180°C preheated oven until golden brown spots start to appear on top, about 40 minutes.Pastitsio-recipe-Process-5-SunCakeMom

Enjoy!Pastitsio-recipe-SunCakeMom

Pastitsio-recipe-g16x9-SunCakeMom
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Pastitsio Recipe

Seeking a traditional Greek dish or a modern favorite? Check out this Pastitsio recipe that will be both, yet none of it!
Course Main Course, Meal
Cuisine Mediterranean, Sugar free recipe
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings 15
Calories 441kcal
Author SunCakeMom

Equipment

  • 7½" x 12" / 19cm x 30cm Casserole dish

Ingredients

Meat Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Cooking oil
  • 1 medium Onion diced
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 2 lb Ground meat
  • cup Red wine
  • 29 oz Tomato puree
  • 1 piece Bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon or stick
  • 1 teaspoon Clove
  • 1 teaspoon Black pepper
Béchamel sauce
  • 7 tablespoons Butter
  • cup Flour
  • 4 cups Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup Parmesan
  • 2 medium Egg yolk
Pasta
  • 1 lb Pasta
  • ¾ cup Feta cheese
  • 2 medium Egg white
Topping
  • 1 cup Mozzarella

Instructions

Meat Sauce

  • Sauté (stir-fry) diced onion and salt in hot oil until it gets a glassy / translucent look, about 5 minutes.
    Red-onion-skillet--gp--SunCakeMom
  • Mix in garlic and sauté until garlic gets fragrant, about 2 minutes.
    Red-onion-skillet--gp--2-SunCakeMom
  • Mix in the ground meat and stir-fry until browned.
    Red-onion-ground-meat-wine-skillet--gp--2-SunCakeMom
  • If any wine is used, add it now and cook away most of the liquid, about 10 minutes.
    Red-onion-ground-meat-wine-skillet--gp--SunCakeMom
  • Add tomato puree, bay leaf, cinnamon, clover and black pepper.
    Ground-meat-tomato-sauce-skillet--gp--SunCakeMom
  • Place the lid on halfway and cook on low to medium heat until the liquid reduced and the sauce thickened.
    Ground-meat-tomato-sauce-skillet--gp--2-SunCakeMom

Béchamel sauce

  • Melt butter in a skillet then mix in the flour and salt.
    Bechamel-sauce-butter-flour-milk--gp--SunCakeMom
  • Vigorously whisk the slowly poured milk in. It will be lumpy at first but keep whisking. (Heating the milk beforehand helps keep it from lumping up if our whisking technique is inadequate.)
    Bechamel-sauce-butter-flour-milk--gp--3-SunCakeMom
  • Whisk egg yolk in a bowl.
    Egg-yolk-whisk--gp--SunCakeMom
  • On medium heat, whisk the egg yolks into the Béchamel for a minute or so. It should thicken the sauce further.
    Bechamel-sauce-butter-flour-milk-egg-yolk--gp--2-SunCakeMom
  • Mix in the grated cheese. Season with salt, black pepper and nutmeg if desired.
    Bechamel-sauce-butter-flour-milk-egg-yolk-parmesan-cheese--gp--3-SunCakeMom

Pasta

  • Cook pasta a couple of minutes, less than we've been instructed on the packing.
    Cook-pasta-drain-penne--gp--2-SunCakeMom
  • Run it under cold tap water for half a minutes then drain.
    Cook-pasta-drain-penne--gp--SunCakeMom

Assembly

  • Mix pasta with crumbled up feta cheese and egg whites then lay it to the bottom of the baking dish. If we don't have pastitsio pasta but really into the look, spend some time arranging the pieces, otherwise pouring the pasta into the dish will do just as well.
    Pastitsio-recipe-Process-SunCakeMom
  • Continue layering with the meat sauce. (Remove whole spices and herbs like cinnamon stick, bay leaf, black pepper or cloves.)
    Pastitsio-recipe-Process-2-SunCakeMom
  • Spread the Béchamel sauce on top.
    Pastitsio-recipe-Process-3-SunCakeMom
  • Sprinkle optional mozzarella on top.
    Pastitsio-recipe-Process-4-SunCakeMom
  • Put it into the middle rack of a 350°F / 180°C preheated oven until golden brown spots start to appear on top, about 40 minutes.
    Pastitsio-recipe-Process-5-SunCakeMom

Notes

Enjoy!

Nutrition (per serving)

Calories: 441kcal (22%) | Carbohydrates: 44g (15%) | Protein: 25g (50%) | Fat: 18g (28%) | Saturated Fat: 9g (56%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 65mg (22%) | Sodium: 902mg (39%) | Potassium: 589mg (17%) | Fiber: 5g (21%) | Sugar: 8g (9%) | Vitamin A: 719IU (14%) | Vitamin C: 7mg (8%) | Calcium: 262mg (26%) | Iron: 5mg (28%)

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