Traditional Greek pastitsio (παστίτσιο, pastítsio) is an authentic Greek Lasagne – a baked dish that combines layers of pasta, ground meat and velvety béchamel sauce to create the ultimate comfort food.
This very tasty dish can be a little challenging to make but our easy to follow Greek Pastitsio recipe is broken up into three easy steps so that you can easily recreate this traditional culinary delight, just like your Yiayia used to make.
Traditional Greek Pastitsio Recipe
3 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce
Salt, to taste
2 handfuls of long macaroni (or mostaccioli noodles)
4 cups of grated cheese (I use a mozzarella and parmesan though traditional recipes call for kasseri cheese)
6 oz of butter
1 cup of flour
5 1/2 cups whole milk
Meat Sauce –
In a large pot, add a little olive oil and set to medium. Add the onions, sprinkle with salt, and cook until onions are translucent. Add the ground beef and stir until browned. Add the tomato sauce, stir and bring to a simmer. Season with salt to taste. Let meat sauce stew for 1-3 hours with a lid on, slightly askew. Stir occasionally.
Grate the cheese and set aside.
Cook noodles in salted water until al dente. Drain noodles and put in a large bowl. Mix one egg into the pastitsio noodles with your hands.
In a large pan, drizzle olive oil in the bottom. Put the egg-tossed noodles in the bottom of the pan and arrange evenly. Sprinkle with a third of the shredded cheese. Cover the noodles and cheese evenly with all or most of the meat mixture. Sprinkle another third of the cheese over the meat layer.
Béchamel Sauce –
Now the sauce. In a large pot, melt 4 oz of butter. Add the flour to the melted butter and whisk to combine. Cook, stirring constantly for a minute or two. Slowly add the milk while whisking. Cook and whisk until it starts to bubble. Turn off heat.
In a separate bowl, beat 3 eggs and 1/2 cup milk. Add this mixture to the pot, slowly, whisking the whole time.
Put back on medium-high heat and cook and whisk until thick. When at the desired consistency, cut the heat and let the béchamel sit for a few minutes.
After the béchamel has rested a few minutes, pour it over the meat and cheese layer. Put the remaining cheese over the béchamel. Melt 2 oz of butter and drizzle the melted butter on top of the cheese.
Place pan into oven preheated to 350º and bake for 1 hour, until browned.
Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.