Europe,  Main Meals,  Recipes,  Travel

COMFORTING PASTITSIO (GREEK LASAGNA) – ATHENS, GREECE

Just like an Italian lasagne, a pastitsio has all the elements of a delicious meal: pasta, meat and LOTS of cheese! However, it’s the spices that make this dish stand out from the rest. Just cooking the lean ground beef in the pan with the intoxicating aromas of cinnamon, allspice, and oregano was enough to make my head spin!

Pastitsio is the ULTIMATE Greek comfort food – up there with the likes of moussaka, gyros and souvlaki! This recipe is suitable for six people (or three people with BIG appetites!) – so get the family and friends together, grab some raki and cherish time spent with one another!

Our Cooking Class Experience

Ben and I learned this delicious recipe for pastitsio in our Greek cooking class with Marilena of CookinAthens! Instead of cooking the traditional moussaka, we chose this recipe to create instead as it was something Ben and I had never tried before! Even though it was new and different, we knew that it would be a good one as soon as we smelt the meat sauce sizzling in the pan. Plus, let’s be honest – you can’t really go wrong with meat, carbs, and cheese now can you?

There are a range of substitutions that can easily be made to make this dish suitable for a variety of diets! Swap the ground beef for a meat-free mince substitute (e.g. Quorn) for vegetarians, and try your hand at a simple vegan bechamel sauce from This Savoury Vegan as a substitution for regular bechamel!

This is a truly comforting dish that can bring the family together, so it is fantastic if you can make it all-inclusive and I look forward to hearing your substitutions and additions!

I really hope you enjoy this hearty recipe for a true Greek classic!

For another trip to the Greek islands and for a PERFECT pairing to this dish, why not try my traditional homemade tzatziki and fresh Greek salad?

Yamas!

ARIA

AuthorariaesmeraldaDifficultyIntermediate

Yields6 Servings
Prep Time40 minsCook Time40 minsTotal Time1 hr 20 mins

 500 g Bucatini pasta (can be substituted with penne)
 Salt
For the Meat Sauce
 2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
 600 g Lean ground beef
 1 Onion, thinly chopped
 1 Garlic clove, minced
 450 g Chopped tomatoes
 1 tsp Tomato paste
 ¼ tsp Ground allspice
 ½ tsp Granulated sugar
 ¼ tsp Oregano
 ½ Stick of cinnamon
 1 Bay leaf
 Salt and pepper
 80 g Kefalotiri (can be substituted with pecorino)
For the White Sauce
 500 ml Whole milk
 50 g Butter
 50 g Plain flour
 ¼ tsp Ground nutmeg
 Salt and pepper, to taste

1

Boil the pasta with some salt and strain.

2

Heat a saucepan on low and add two tablespoons of olive oil. Fry the onion and garlic. Stir occasionally until the onions have softened - for about 5 minutes or so.

3

Increase the heat to medium, add the ground beef and cook. Stir and break up the meat with a spoon for about 10 minutes, or until browned.

4

Add the tomato paste, allspice, bay leaf, oregano, cinnamon stick, and sugar. Then season with salt and pepper.

5

Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until all the liquid has been evaporated. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool.

6

Meanwhile, for the sauce, melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring frequently for 1 minute.

7

Remove the pan from the heat and gradually pour in the milk, whisking constantly until the mixture is smooth.

8

Return the sauce to medium heat and simmer, whisking constantly for 5 minutes until thickened and smooth. Remove from the heat and whisk in the nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

9

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius.

10

Grease a baking dish with butter and cover the base of the dish with half of the pasta.

11

Spread the meat mixture on top and cover with the rest of the pasta.

12

Spread over the béchamel sauce and top with the kefalotiri or pecorino.

13

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

14

Remove from the oven and let it stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Ingredients

 500 g Bucatini pasta (can be substituted with penne)
 Salt
For the Meat Sauce
 2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
 600 g Lean ground beef
 1 Onion, thinly chopped
 1 Garlic clove, minced
 450 g Chopped tomatoes
 1 tsp Tomato paste
 ¼ tsp Ground allspice
 ½ tsp Granulated sugar
 ¼ tsp Oregano
 ½ Stick of cinnamon
 1 Bay leaf
 Salt and pepper
 80 g Kefalotiri (can be substituted with pecorino)
For the White Sauce
 500 ml Whole milk
 50 g Butter
 50 g Plain flour
 ¼ tsp Ground nutmeg
 Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1

Boil the pasta with some salt and strain.

2

Heat a saucepan on low and add two tablespoons of olive oil. Fry the onion and garlic. Stir occasionally until the onions have softened - for about 5 minutes or so.

3

Increase the heat to medium, add the ground beef and cook. Stir and break up the meat with a spoon for about 10 minutes, or until browned.

4

Add the tomato paste, allspice, bay leaf, oregano, cinnamon stick, and sugar. Then season with salt and pepper.

5

Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until all the liquid has been evaporated. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool.

6

Meanwhile, for the sauce, melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring frequently for 1 minute.

7

Remove the pan from the heat and gradually pour in the milk, whisking constantly until the mixture is smooth.

8

Return the sauce to medium heat and simmer, whisking constantly for 5 minutes until thickened and smooth. Remove from the heat and whisk in the nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

9

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius.

10

Grease a baking dish with butter and cover the base of the dish with half of the pasta.

11

Spread the meat mixture on top and cover with the rest of the pasta.

12

Spread over the béchamel sauce and top with the kefalotiri or pecorino.

13

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

14

Remove from the oven and let it stand for 15 minutes before serving.

PASTITSIO (GREEK LASAGNA) – ATHENS, GREECE

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