Updated: Mar 7, 2021
When I think of Greek food, I think gyros, moussaka, greek salad... but I'd never heard of Pastitsio until I visited my favorite local Greek restaurant. Of course, I wanted to try to make it myself. So what is Pastitsio? It's like a Greek lasagna - layers of meat, pasta and creamy Béchamel sauce, but with a Greek flair. There are a lot of steps, but it's worth it!
Here's how to make it:
16 oz. penne pasta
1 cup shredded halloumi cheese (you can use mozzarella if you can't find halloumi. I found it at my local Trader Joe's.) NOTE: You'll need another 1 cup of shredded halloumi for the recipe; or if you can't find it: 1/2 cup mozzarella (for the beef mixture) and 1/2 cup Parmesan (for the Béchamel).
1 pound ground beef
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves minced garlic
1 TBS minced fresh rosemary (or 1 TSP dried)
1 TBS minced fresh oregano (or 1 TSP dried)
1⁄4 TSP ground nutmeg
1⁄4 cup dry red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir)
1/2 cup shredded halloumi cheese (or mozzarella)
1 - 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
salt and white pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
Brown the beef and season with salt and pepper. Set aside and pour off any excess grease.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion. Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic, rosemary, oregano, and nutmeg and cook for another minute.
Add the red wine and deglaze the pan (loosen and dissolve any food particles).
Reduce the wine in the pan to about 1 tablespoon of liquid. Stir in the tomatoes (with the liquid) and the beef. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.
Simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir in the halloumi cheese and cook another 5 minutes.
For the Béchamel Sauce
3 TBS unsalted butter
3 TBS all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/2 cup shredded halloumi cheese (or Parmesan)
1/2 TSP kosher or sea salt
1/4 TSP ground white pepper
Heat the milk in the microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 4-5 minutes.
Slowly pour in the hot milk, whisking steadily, and cook until thickened.
Whisk in the egg yolks and Parmesan (or halloumi) cheese, and cook until it's completely melted and thick.
Stir in salt and pepper.
Put it all Together
Preheat your oven to 400° F.
Toss the cooked pasta with shredded halloumi or mozzarella cheese. Layer 3/4 of the pasta in the bottom of 9 x 13 baking dish.
Evenly layer the meat mixture on top of the pasta.
Distribute the remaining pasta over the meat and pour the sauce evenly over the pasta.
Place the baking dish ion the middle rack of your oven and cook for 35-45 minutes, or until top is a golden brown and enjoy!
Did you make it? Share pics in the comments!