Pastitsio is my favorite Greek Dish. Reminds me of a Lasagna, but easier to make and more elegant when sliced.
The components are pretty much the same: Pasta, Meat sauce and a cheesy Bechamel. I cannot find Kasseri cheese, so I’ve been experimenting with alternatives. I find that a mix of White Cheddar and Pecorino works well.
Also, it is a great way to utilize all those “odds and ends” dry pasta leftover in the pantry.
You will make this recipe over and over, guaranteed.
Serves 6 for a 9″ round pan (a spring form will work too)
12 OZ short pasta. I use De Cecco and today I had a mix of Mostaccioli and Cavatappi. Ziti works too.
3 to 4 C Meat sauce. Your favorite, even if it’s from a jar.
3 T Olive Oil
FOR THE BECHAMEL:
1/3 C Olive Oil
2/3 C flour, AP
3 to 4 C milk, warm
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 C Kasseri cheese, grated (or White Cheddar and Pecorino mix in the same quantity)
Cook the pasta in salted water, about 2 minutes less than what is stated on the package.
Immediately drain and coat with olive oil. Reserve 1/4 of the noodles. The remaining toss into the
Meat Sauce. Set aside.
Grease the Baking dish and coat it with breadcrumbs if you like.
Prepare the Bechamel:
In a large saucepan place the oil and the flour, mix and cook until the it starts leaving a thin patina on the bottom of the pan. This step will get rid of the “starchy flour” taste in the sauce.
Add the warm milk and whisk until incorporated and smooth. Keep stirring .
Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir until it starts thickening. Remove from the heat and keep stirring.
Add the cheese, and incorporate until melted. Once the Mornay (Bechamel with Cheese has a different name) is smooth again add the eggs one at a time, whisking immediately so they won’t create lumps. The sauce should be thick.
Use 1/ 2 of the sauce to toss with the pasta previously set aside.
PREPARE THE DISH
Layer the pasta with meatsauce on the bottom of the pan. Press to compact it. It will be easier to cut once cooked and aesthetically more pleasing.
Now top this layer with the pasta coated in cheese sauce. Additionally you could sprinkle some extra cheese in between these 2 layers.
Spoon the remaining Mornay on top (if it is not thick enough place it back on the heat and stir some more until has the consistency of a thick pudding)
Place the Pastitsio in a pre heated oven to 350F and bake about 45 min until golden brown on top
Let a little before slicing.