This is such a great dish and a great dish to serve to company. It's a little labor intensive but you eventually get use to it. It's much like making lasagna. This dish features 2 distinct flavors from 2 different cultures, Italian and Greek. Where I am from in Bari, Italy in the Puglia region the flavors can easily compare to Greek flavors. This dish is also made in Egypt that also has the influence of Mediterranean flavors, they call it "Macaroni Bechamel". Many people are surprised at the connection of these cultures.
The word "Pastitsio" is a Greek variation on the Italian word "Pasticcio," meaning a hodgepodge or scramble, and indeed this dish combines a number of different ingredients together in a single dish. It's also a variation of the common Italian dish "Pasta al Forno" translated to "Pasta in the Oven" which is one of my favorite dishes my mamma makes, I will post that recipe soon!
Here is a map of the Mediterranean Region
This is such a comfort food and is loved by the whole family. Even if you have leftovers this is great for days when you just heat it up. During the cold months, it's a feel good dish. I hope that you can enjoy it as much as I do.
Completing the recipe in the step by step process makes it easy to create. So enjoy, the end results are amazing!
1 large onion, chopped
2 lb ground beef, ground turkey or ground lamb (or a 1 lb. beef and 1 lb. lamb mixture) (as tamara suggests, use some bulk hot or mild italian sausage!)
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried greek oregano
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
28 oz crushed tomatoes
dashes seasoned pepper blend
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
dashes salt and pepper
1 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
2/3 c greek yogurt
1 lb box of penne pasta, cooked according to al dente
1/2 stick butter
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and return to pan.
In a small saucepan, melt butter until golden brown, and pour over the reserved pasta. Add the parmesan cheese and toss well. Leave until cool, then add eggs and toss again. Set aside.
For the sauce, drizzle extra virgin olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and minced garlic, saute for 5 minutes.
Add the ground meat and saute over medium heat for at least 10 minuted and until meat is no longer pink.
Drain most of excess liquid but not all, add the wine, and cook for 2 more minutes.
Add the oregano and thyme, mix and cook for about 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes, salt and seasoned pepper blend. Simmer for 40-45 minutes stirring occasionally. Set sauce aside.
Preheat oven to 350'F.
For the Bechamel, heat the milk and cream together in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until simmering.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for 2 minutes.
Pour the warm milk and cream mixture into the butter and flour mixture, whisking constantly. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until smooth and thick.
Add the nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of the tomato and meat sauce, and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the eggs and yogurt and set aside.
Butter a 9x13 Baking dish, you can lay the pasta down, add the tomato meat sauce, then the Bechamel sauce and add the remaining 3/4 cups of freshly grated Parmesan cheese or Romano cheese
You also again butter a 9x13 baking dish. Mix the pasta with the tomato meat sauce, place into baking dish and top with Bechamel Sauce and top with the remaining 3/4 cups of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hours until top is lightly browned and dish is bubbling. Set aside and cool for 10 minutes. Serve dish while hot.
*Note: You can freeze this dish and then cook when your ready to make for dinner. You have to cook longer but have topping lightly browned and mixture bubbling. About 1 1/2 hours or so depending on your oven.
*Serve with fresh warm bread and a fresh green salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.