Easy WeeknightMain Course

Pastitsio – Greek Style Comfort Food


When I am craving a comfort food dish, my favorite Greek pasta dish bounces it’s way into my head. This dish is loaded with a fragrant meat and tomato sauce that is then covered with gooey Parmesan cheese and a creamy, bechamel sauce.

  • 13-by 9-inch glass baking dish, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray[br]
  • Meat Sauce:
  • 2 tbsp virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes with juice
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • Pasta:
  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • Bechamel Sauce:
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  1. [i]Meat Sauce: [/i]In a Dutch oven over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until garlic is fragrant. Add the ground beef and pork. Cook, crumbling meat with the back of a spoon, for 7 to 9 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.
  2. Add tomatoes, wine, olives, oregano, salt, pepper, bay leaf and cinnamon stick; mix well. Adjust heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour or until mixture is thickened. Remove and discard bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Set aside.
  3. [i]Pasta[/i]: In a large pot of salted water, cook pasta according to package directions until al dente; drain. Add milk, butter, eggs and 1/2 cup cheese. Gently stir pasta to coat. Set aside.
  4. [i]Bechamel:[/i] In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour, whisking continuously, for 2 minutes. Gradually add milk and cream; cook, whisking continuously, for 5 minutes or until mixture is smooth and thickened. Stir in 3/4 cup parmesan, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes to cool.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  6. Add 1/2 of the penne mixture to the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Add all of the meat sauce evenly over the top of the penne. Sprinkle evenly with 3/4 cup parmesan. Add remaining penne mixture evenly over the top. Sprinkle evenly with 3/4 cup parmesan. Pour bechamel sauce evenly over entire casserole; top with remaining cheese.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until bechamel sauce sets and is golden brown. Let stand for 20 minutes or until firm, before cutting into sections to serve.
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