I have called this recipe Pastitsio the Greek way as opposed to the Makaronia tou Fournou, which is the one we make in Cyprus.
Pastitsio is a layered Greek pasta casserole dish, similar to Lasagne. u00c2u00a0 In many parts of Greece and Cyprus, Pastitsio is also called «Makaronia tou Fournou» which means «oven baked pasta». u00c2u00a0The name pastitsio comes from the Italian «pasticcio», where in some parts of Italy is also called «Lasagne al Forno», which again means «oven baked Lasagne». u00c2u00a0Lasagna are made with a flat sheet of pasta which has its roots in ancient Greece. u00c2u00a0This pasta was called «Laganon» or «Lasanon» or «Lasana». u00c2u00a0Lasanon was a trivet or a stand for the pot. u00c2u00a0The ancient Romans named it «lasanum». u00c2u00a0They cooked this pasta in the «lasagnum» which later was named affter this pot to Lasagna plural Lasagne. u00c2u00a0In Greece we still have un unleavened flatbread called «Lagana».
There are a few variations of Pastitsio throughout the regions of Greece with a few minor different spices but typically the bottom layer is bucatini or other tubular pasta with cheese and egg as a binder, or some of the béchamel cream.u00c2u00a0 If we do not add the cream our pasta will not stick together but will spread in the plate during serving.
The second layer is a ground meat sauce (usually beef or veal but it can also be substituted with pork, a mixture of veal and pork mince or chicken or turkey mince) with fresh tomatoes and cinnamon, nutmeg (cloves and allspice are a few other spices used).
On top of the sauce thereu00c2u00a0 is another layer of pasta and on top ofu00c2u00a0 that is a thick creamy Béchamel sauce with myzithra or graviera (read here to find out about theseu00c2u00a0 Greek cheeses) grated and mixed in the pasta as well as in the béchamel sauce and some sprinkled on top together with a hint of nutmeg or other spices.
Authentic Greek Pastitsio
Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time: about 45 minutes
Serves: 1 baking tin 35 x 30 cm / 14 x 12 inches
- 1 packet (500 grs.) of tubular spaghetti No. 3 or No. 6
- 1 cup of grated graviera or myzithra cheese (extra for the bechamel)
- A pinch of ground nutmeg
- 500 gramsu00c2u00a0 (1.10 lbs) ground beef or veal
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 red onion finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 3 ripe tomatoes peeled and blendedu00c2u00a0 (or 1 can 500 grams of whole tomatoes, blended)
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ cup of dry white wine (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp oregano
See recipe and step by step instructions here.
- Sauté the onion and garlicu00c2u00a0 until translucent.u00c2u00a0 Add the ground meat and sauté until it turns white.
- Add wine and stir until it evaporates and add salt, pepper, oregano, cinnamon and oregano.u00c2u00a0 Finally add tomatoes and tomato paste. Reduce heat and simmer until it is cooked and most of the juices are reduced to a sauce. u00c2u00a0Remove from the heat and mix in the parsley.
- Meantime, prepare the béchamel sauce and pasta.
- Boil water and add salt and a tablespoon of olive oil and prepare the pasta al dente, according to the package instructions.u00c2u00a0u00c2u00a0 Remove from the heat and place it in cold water.u00c2u00a0 When ready to use drain and mix inu00c2u00a0the egg white and some cheese.
- Divide the pasta in two equal parts and in half of it mix a few tablespoon béchamel sauce.
- Put this pasta as the bottom layer and then add the ground meat on top and add remaining pasta on top.
- Finally, add the béchamel sauce to cover pasta and sprinkle with some grated cheese and a sprinkle of nutmeg on top.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C / 350 F for about 45 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Other relevant recipes:
Makaronia tou Fournou
Pastitsio Nistisimo (Vegan)
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,