Pastitsio takes its name from the Italian pasticcio, also known as “Lasagna al Forno” in some regions of Italy. In Cyprus we call pastitsio «Makaronia tou Fournou» which again means «Baked Pasta» which is the same as «Lasagna at Forno». Lasagna al Forno is made with a flat noodle or sheet pasta called “lasagna” instead of a tubular pasta. Lasagna al Forno / pasticcio is a baked pasta dish with many variations, usually containing no meat, just vegetables and a dough crust, some of which include ragù with a custard or Béchamel topping, still some with no Béchamel and Riccotta cheese instead and typically contain more tomato or tomato sauce than Greek Pastitsio variations.
Although lasagna is generally believed to have originated in Italy, the word “lasagna” is derived from the Greek word λάσανα (lasana) or λάσανον (lasanon) meaning “trivet or stand for a pot”, “chamber pot“. The Romans later borrowed the word as “lasanum”, in Latin, to mean cooking pot. The Italians then used the word to refer to the dish in which lasagna is made. It wasn’t long before the name of the food took on the name of the serving dish.
Another theory suggests that lasagna might have come from Greek λάγανον (laganon), a kind of flat sheet of pasta dough cut into stripes.
So, which came first the chicken or the egg? This question has been puzzling mankind for millenia and still needs to be answered and I suppose the same applies to Who made Lasagna or Pastitsio first.
I love both dishes and I am sure that most of you love both. Because of all these theories, I decided to combine both recipes and make the Pastitsio Lasagna recipe, which would please both Greeks and Italians.
Serves: 6 – 7
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 1 hour
- 18 lasagna noodles, which do not required to be cooked
- 250 grams ground pork
- 250 grams ground veal
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4 green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, grated
- ½ cup of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup of celery, finely chopped
- 500 grams (1 can of whole tomatoes) blended
- 320 grams of anthotyro cheese
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- black pepper
- ½ cup of red dry wine
- 1 cup of water
In a sauce pan add the olive oil on the heat and sauté the onion and garlic. Add the ground meat and sauté for a few minutes, then add the grated carrots, pepper and celery and sauté as well. Add the wine and stir for a couple of minutes until the alcohol evaporates. Add the seasoning and herbs and finally the tomato and 1 cup of water and simmer until there is only a little bit of sauce left. Remove from the heat and mix in the parsley. (I always mix in the parsley last as it retains all its aroma).
While the meat sauce is simmering, prepare the béchamel sauce.
For the béchamel sauce
- 6 tablespoons of olive oil (I prefer using olive oil as it makes it healthier)
- 6 tablespoons of flour
- 1 litre milk (I used low fat milk)
- 2 eggs
- A pinch of salt
- 1 pinch of nutmeg
- 150 grams of grated graviera
- a pinch of cinnamon to sprinkle on top
In a saucepan heat the olive oil making sure it does not burn. Add flour and mix thoroughly, add salt and nutmeg.
Add the warm milk, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thick and creamy. If it becomes too thick add some more cold milk and mix.
Beat the eggs and add gradually, a little at a time slowly, but stirring constantly until it is absorbed. Add a couple of tablespoons of grated graviera and stir.
Putting the dish together:
In an oven proof glass baking tin, spread a few tablespoons of béchamel sauce and place a layer of 6 lasagna. Add half of the meat sauce, thin slices of anthotyro and half graviera. Add another layer of 6 lasagna, a few tablespoons of béchamel and repeat adding the ground meat, anthotyro and graviera. Finally add the third layer of lasagna and the remaining béchamel sauce on top.
I sprinkled just a little bit of cinnamon on top, the way we make makaronia tou fournou in Cyprus and baked in a preheated oven at 180C for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the top becomes golden brown.
Allow to cool before serving.
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