Switch up your dinner game and make this classic Greek dish of pastitsio! A classic lasagna set up with a rich, creamy, and white bechamel sauce. Fresh herbs and spices, combined with two types of cheese, ground beef, and pasta make one delicious unforgettable meal.
Pastitsio is a common and popular recipe in Greek culture. It’s Greek lasagna, with a white sauce to replace the red sauce. Most strikingly is its use of a dash of cinnamon, and in some cases, nutmeg. Not many would pair these spices with a dish like this one, but it’s a delicious combination.
How to Make
- Prep – Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook and drain pasta and place it at the bottom of a 13×9 dish. Top with feta.
- Saute – Add 4 tablespoons oil to a pan and saute the sugar, onions, and thyme for 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste. Saute for 2 minutes. Add the beef and cook for 5 minutes.
- Make the sauce – In a separate pan, melt the butter and then add the flour. Whisk for two minutes then add milk, whisking the entire time. Salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Add in all but ¼ cup of the gruyere cheese. Stir until melted. Add eggs and whisk. Stir in nutmeg.
- Assemble – Add 3 tablespoons of the sauce to the meat mixture and stir. Add meat mixture on top of the noodles, evenly, followed by the white sauce. Top with the gruyere cheese and parsley.
- Bake – Bake for 50 minutes or until the sauce is browned. Allow to cool for a few minutes and enjoy!
Top Tips For The Perfect Pastitsio
- Nix the cinnamon or nutmeg – Many people like the addition of cinnamon and nutmeg. However, there are just as many who get turned off by this addition. That’s no problem, just skip adding one or both of these ingredients.
- Try other cheeses – If desired, you can experiment with other cheeses. Of course, it’s important to note that other cheeses can adjust the taste of the dish. So, try to plan ahead.
- Use red sauce – Although it’s not traditional to the dish, you could swap out the bechamel sauce for traditional marinara sauce.
- What to serve with pastitsio? – This is a Greek meal, but anything you would serve with an Italian dish would work well. Some ideas to get the wheels turning are Cheesy Corn, Roasted Parmesan Brussel Sprouts, Lemon Israieli Couscous, Honey Roasted Carrots, Vegetable Salad, Tomato Avocado Salad, etc.
- Bake on the center rack – Various positions in the oven allows dishes to cook just a tad bit differently. This dish does best when cooked on the middle rack. Most racks in ovens are adjustable, so just remember to adjust the rack if one isn’t positioned in the middle, before heating the oven.
What is the Difference Between Moussaka and Pastitsio?
Moussaka and pastitsio are two very similar dishes, but they have a couple of ingredients that differ. Popularly, moussaka usually contains potatoes and eggplant, without pasta. Pastitsio doesn’t contain potatoes or eggplant but has a pasta base. If compared to other foods, pastitsio is more similar to lasagna while moussaka is more similar to a shepherd’s pie.
What is the Difference Between Lasagna and Pastitsio?
Lasagna is a classic Italian dish with layers of beefy marinara sauce, ricotta cheese, lasagna noodles, and mozzarella cheese. However, pastitsio has non-repeating layers of ziti pasta, a beefy tomato mixture, a white bechamel sauce, and gruyere cheese. So, although similar in nature, they’re very different when their ingredients are compared.
Storage and Reheating
- Fridge – Store in a sealed container for up to 4 days.
- Freezer – Freeze in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
- Reheating – Reheat using the oven or microwave.
More Delicious Pasta Recipes You’ll Enjoy
- Instant Pot Rasta Pasta
- Shrimp Pesto Pasta
- Chicken and Shrimp Pasta Bake
- Creamy Shrimp Alfredo Pasta
- 1 lb ziti
- 1 lb ground beef
- 28 ounces diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup feta cheese
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 onion diced
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 oz red wine
- 1 tsp cinnamon ground
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 beef bouillon cube
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 1/4 cup milk
- 3 cup Gruyere cheese grated
- 5 eggs
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook and drain pasta. Add to the bottom of a 13x9 casserole dish and top with feta cheese.
- Add 4 tbsp olive oil to a pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, thyme, and sugar. Saute for 3 minutes. Add tomato paste and saute for 2 minutes. Add ground beef, brown for 5 minutes. Add red wine and cook for 2 minutes. Then, add cinnamon and beef bouillon. Lower heat, add diced tomatoes. Simmer for 5 minutes and then remove from heat.
- In a saucepan, make the bechamel sauce. Melt butter. Once melted, add the flour and whisk while cooking for 2 minutes. Slowly incorporate milk, whisking often. Whisk in salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. The sauce will be slightly thick and creamy. Stir in grated gruyere cheese (set aside 2 cups) until melted. Next, add eggs and whisk to combine. Cook for 2 minutes and remove from heat. Stir in nutmeg.
- Add 3 tbsp of bechamel sauce to ground beef mixture and stir to combine. Scoop meat mixture evenly atop noodles in the casserole dish.
- Pour the bechamel sauce over the top of the meat mixture. Sprinkle the remaining gruyere cheese and fresh parsley over the top.
- Bake on the center rack for 50 minutes, or until the bechamel sauce turns golden brown. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before slicing into it. Enjoy!