April 14th, 2011
This is the crowning glory of the savory section for Greek Week. Pastitsio is a very traditional dish, and happens to be a family favorite. There are no big family gatherings that Tula doesn’t bless us with this dish. Again, among her family of men, this would be considered a side dish, (in the same way that macaroni and cheese on Thanksgiving can be a side dish?) But I am pretty sure that this is an entree!
It is the most amazing comfort food. I would equate it to like a “Greek” lasagna, with layers of pasta, cheese and egg, a delicious meat sauce and rich and creamy béchamel sauce. It is scented with cinnamon, which gives it a really unique flavor and compliments the cream and the lamb.
Speaking of lamb, we used ground lamb, but lean ground beef works beautifully in this dish too.
1 lb pasta, (I used penne)
¼ cup olive oil
2lbs ground lamb
1 large onion, minced
6 garlic cloves
28oz tomato puree
2/3 cup flat leaf parsley, minced
½ tsp cinnamon
.75 lb feta
½ cup milk
3 cups milk
1 cup parmesan
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Deep 9×13” pan, (like for a big lasagna)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Boil the pasta to al dente. When the pasta is cooked, drained and briefly rinse with cold water. Set aside.
In a large sauté pan, add the olive oil and heat over medium.
Add the lamb and break it up with a wooden spoon, cooking it through well.
Add the onions and garlic and cook with the lamb until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, parsley and cinnamon and simmer about 20 minutes, or until most of the liquid has absorbed. The mixture should be thick.
Put the pasta in a large bowl. Add the feta to the pasta.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs and milk until fluffy. Pour over the pasta and cheese and mix the pasta well.
Add a large scoop of the béchamel to the pasta and mix it in.
In a pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat.
Add the flour and whisk it until there is a smooth roux.
Whisk in one cup of the milk.
Beat the eggs and 2 cups milk together until fluffy.
Add the egg/milk mixture a tiiiiny bit at a time. You just want the sauce to get thick, NOT to make scrambled eggs!!!
Add the cheese, whisking until smooth. Remove from heat.
Add the cinnamon, and season with salt and pepper.
Place the baking dish on a sheet pan (in case béchamel bubbles over)
Pour pasta into baking dish.
Next comes a layer of the meat sauce.
On the very top is the béchamel sauce, which should come up to the very top.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
Dish this up and serve it hot!
ENJOY! It is soooo good!