Pastitsio (Greek Lasagne)

This Pastitsio is exactly as the hospitable Greeks intended: fit to feed a crowd! Makes 12 large portions.

300g Greek bucatini or Italian penne pasta
150g feta cheese
2 egg whites

Meat sauce:
60ml olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
15ml tomato paste
1kg minced beef
90ml red wine
1 tin chopped tomato
10ml sugar
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon quill
7,5ml salt
2,5ml black pepper

Béchamel Sauce:
125ml butter
190ml flour
1 litre milk
2,5ml nutmeg
2,5ml salt
110g Kefalotyri cheese or Parmesan, grated
2 egg yolks

For the pasta:
Cook the pasta, drain and return to the saucepan in which it was cooked.
Crumble the feta over the pasta and mix together.
Add the egg whites and mix through. Set aside.

For the meat sauce:
Place a heavy bottom saucepan on medium-high heat and add the olive oil and onion.
Fry for 2-3 minutes and then add the garlic, tomato paste and minced beef.
Cook for 5 minutes, stirring and breaking up the beef while browning it.
Add the red wine, tomatoes, sugar, bay leaf, cinnamon, salt and pepper.
Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce is thick.
Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon quill and take the mixture from the heat. Allow to cool slightly.

For the Béchamel Sauce:
Place a saucepan on medium heat and add the butter to melt.
Add the flour and stir the paste around for 2 minutes while cooking.
Add the milk and whisk until the sauce has no lumps and has thickened.
Remove from the heat and add the nutmeg, salt and half the cheese. Whisk until smooth.
Cool the sauce for 5 minutes and then whisk in the egg yolks.

Preheat your oven to 180℃ and spray an oven dish of 23cm X 26cm with cooking spray.
Spoon the pasta into the dish and spread it into an even layer.
Spoon the meat sauce on top and then top it with the béchamel sauce.
Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top in an even layer.
Place the dish in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.
The Pastitsio can be served at room temperature.

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