Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Pastitsio or "Greek lasagna" contains layers of pasta, meat sauce and bechamel sauce. Derived from the Italian word "pasticcio", it means mess or hodgepodge. There are many recipes out there for Pastitsio. Some of the recipes call for literally making everything from scratch. Since I don't usually have that kind of time, I opted to take some shortcuts to make this dish somewhat quicker and easier.

Once again I've used a recipe from Kraft as a base for my recipe. I added some spices and extra cheese into my recipe.  It was also another opportunity for me to use some of my flourishing cinnamon basil.

adapted from Kraft

1 1/2 lbs  elbow macaroni, cooked al dente & drained well- (measured before cooking - I eyeballed pouring 1/2 a 3 lb box into a large pot of water. I used all but about 1 cup of the cooked mac in this recipe.)

Meat Sauce
1 1/2 lb ground beef
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
24 oz spaghetti sauce (I used jarred sauce)

Bechamel Sauce
4 tbsp butter
2 1/2 c milk
1/2 c. heavy cream
16 oz  Greek nonfat yogurt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 + 1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. cinnamon basil, chopped


Cook elbow macaroni. Drain well and set aside.

For meat sauce:

Brown ground beef in a large skillet. Drain excess grease. Return ground beef to the skillet and stir in spices and spaghetti sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes on low heat. Stir occasionally. Stir in cinnamon basil. Remove from heat.

For Bechamel Sauce:

In a large frying pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Stirring constantly, pour in milk and nutmeg, stirring to blend. Bring mixture to a boil and continue cooking over medium heat for 5 - 7 minutes or until mixture starts to thicken. Stir in 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese. Stir until melted. Remove from heat and stir in yogurt.

Add macaroni and stir until it is well coated.

Preheat oven to 350*

To assemble:

Pour ground beef mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13 dish. Spread the macaroni over the beef. Top with 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until warmed through and the top has browned lightly. Cool in pan for 5 - 10 minutes before serving.

~*~* My thoughts *~

The dish was very tasty. All of the herbs and spices came shining through, especially the cinnamon basil and the nutmeg. If you don't like a heavy spice taste in your food, I would suggest cutting back on the spices or even leaving out the cinnamon basil.

This is a traditional Pastitsio by any means. As you can see in the pictures, it did not hold together in layers but it did hold true to the definition of it's name. All the same, it was really good.

If I were to make this recipe again, I would use penne pasta instead of the elbow macaroni. I would also add another layer of pasta to the bottom of the pan, and then add the beef in the middle and top with more pasta.


Ali said...

This looks delicious. I love the spices in the meat sauce and bechamel. It sounds divine. Adding this to my recipe box and stumbling it. Thanks!

Tami said...

Thanks, Ali!

Feast on the Cheap said...

I adore Pastitsio and I order it without fail at my local Greek restaurant. Will have to give it a whirl at home!

Tami said...

Thanks for stopping by Feast on the Cheap! Let me know if you try this recipe. :)

Sevi Wate said...

I am form Greece and that's a very good approach to this traditional food. Well done! Not to mention that we had pastitsio today for lunch xD

Lani said...

Love your blog am now following hope you take the time to go see my new cooking .I have so many sties love the garden to stove idea ...Glad I found you

Anonymous said...

I grew up eating my grandmother's homemade pastitisio. She makes it with larger ziti noodles, but I love the idea of elbow macaroni, too!

Anonymous said...

this looks heavenly! i can't wait to try this recipe! thanks for sharing it with us! :) i have never had greek cuisine and am eager to try it!

Comfy Cook said...

Tami, this is a wonderful dish. I was surprised at the cinnamon. Is that Greek? said...


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