Also known as Greek Lasagna, this Pastitsio is everything comfort food should be. The perfect dish for a large crowd that will please even the pickiest of eaters. Layers of pasta, a delicious and aromatic meat sauce, topped with a special bechamel sauce, is what this Greek Lasagna is all about.
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Keyword: greek dish, greek lasagna, greek pasta bake, pastitsio
Brown the meat: Add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, breaking it up as you cook, until the meat is well browned.
Cook onion and garlic: Add the onion, stir and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent. Stir in the garlic.
Deglaze and add remaining ingredients: Deglaze the pan with the red wine, then add the bay leaves, oregano, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, salt, pepper, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, water and sugar. Stir everything together well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered for about 45 minutes or until the sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaves and cinnamon stick and discard.
Cook the pasta: Before starting the Béchamel sauce, cook the pasta as per package instructions until al dente. Drain and let cool.
Make the bechamel: In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk in the flour. Keep whisking for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper, then whisk everything together. Cook for another 5 minutes and whisk as necessary. Remove from heat and stir in the ¾ cup of Kefalotyri cheese.
Combine with the egg mixture: In a medium size bowl whisk together the 2 eggs with the 2 egg yolks. Add a ladle of Béchamel sauce into the eggs and whisk briskly to avoid curdling the eggs. Add another ladle of sauce and whisk. Gradually add the egg mixture into the Béchamel sauce while stirring briskly.
Preheat oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Grease the pan: Grease a 9x13-inch pan that's 3 inches deep with some olive oil. It's very important that the dish is 3 inches deep, otherwise not everything will fit.
Prepare the pasta: Toss the cooked pasta with ½ cup of the meat sauce. Whisk the 2 egg white and toss it together along with ½ cup of Kefalotyri cheese. Transfer the pasta mixture to the prepared pan. You can arrange the pasta so that's they all go in the same direction.
Top with remaining meat sauce: Top the pasta with the rest of the meat sauce and smooth out the surface.
Finish with bechamel and cheese: Pour the Béchamel sauce over the meat sauce and smooth it out. Top with remaining Kefalotyri cheese.
Bake: Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the top is golden brown and set.
Let rest and serve: Let the pastitsio rest for at least 30 minutes before cutting into slices and serving.
Although you can use regular ground beef, I recommend using lean ground beef because the extra fat can make the Pastitsio somewhat greasy.
Substitute Kefalotyri cheese with Parmesan cheese.
If you find the béchamel sauce is not as smooth or thick enough, stir together a little more flour with cold milk, then add to the sauce and cook and stir until bubbly.
Make sure to use a baking dish deep enough so that everything fits.
Let the pastitsio cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing, so that it has time to set.
Store leftover pastitsio in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Reheat in a 350°F oven, covered until heated through.
Cool completely before freezing by first placing in the fridge, if necessary. This pastitsio will freeze nicely in portions and placing in airtight containers. Thaw in the fridge overnight, before reheating.