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A serving of pastitsio on a white plate
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5 from 2 votes

Greek Pastitsio

This Greek Pastitsio recipe has layers of pasta, spiced meat sauce, cheese and a rich and smooth béchamel sauce. This Greek pasta bake is comfort food at it's finest!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Greek
Keyword Greek Pastitsio, Pastitsio, Pastitsio recipe
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Calories 514kcal

Ingredients

For the Meat Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 (28-ounces) can crushed tomatoes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Bechamel Sauce:

  • 2 1/2 cups Half and half
  • 4 tablespoons 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan or Kasseri cheese
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt

The Noodles

  • 12 ounces bucatini or any small pasta like penne or ziti (check the Chef's tips)

Instructions

To Make the Meat Sauce:

  • In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until the onions become translucent, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the ground beef and cook, crumbling it with the back of a wooden spoon until the beef is no longer pink.
  • Stir in the wine, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, and ground cayenne and continue cooking over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes and season to taste. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

To Make the Béchamel Sauce:

  • Heat the half and half in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until simmering. You can also use the microwave, if you prefer.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes whisking constantly.
  • Gradually, pour the warm half and half into the butter/flour mixture whisking constantly. Continue cooking stirring frequently until the mixture thickens, about 5 – 6 minutes. Add the nutmeg, salt and ground black pepper to taste.
  • Stir in ¾ cup of Parmesan cheese and about ½ cup of the meat sauce. Mix to combine and remove from the heat. Allow the béchamel sauce to cool for about 10 minutes, then quickly stir in the eggs, whisking constantly. Add the yogurt and mix to combine. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until just al dente. Don't over-cook the pasta as it will have to bake later. Drain.
  • Mix the cooked pasta with the meat sauce and pour the mixture into a large baking dish (9.5 x 13).
  • Spread the bechamel evenly to cover the pasta and sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake for 1 hour, until golden brown and bubbly. Remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes

  • Authentic Greek Pastitsio is made with bucatini pasta. I couldn't find bucatini so I chose a small noodle instead.
  • If you don't want to use wine to make the meat sauce, use beef or chicken broth instead.
  • Only cook the pasta until just al dente. The pasta will continue to cook while it bakes.
  • You can assemble the casserole a day in advance. Store covered in the refrigerator. Remove from the fridge 30 to 45 minutes before baking so the pasta has time to come to room temperature.
  • You can make the meat sauce 1 to 2 days in advance. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Nutrition

Calories: 514kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 134mg | Sodium: 385mg | Potassium: 544mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 538IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 288mg | Iron: 3mg