Experience the rich and comforting tastes of Greece with our authentic Greek Pastitsio. It features tantalizing layers of pasta, savory meat sauce, and luscious bechamel sauce. Baked to golden perfection, this traditional dish is a true taste of Greece.
At the heart of this dish lies tender pasta, cooked to perfection, providing a delightful base for the layers of savory goodness that follow.
The star of the show is a hearty meat sauce, typically made with ground beef, infused with cinnamon. This luscious sauce adds depth and richness to each bite.
A velvety béchamel sauce blankets the meat sauce, adding a creamy and indulgent touch. The béchamel is made from a roux of olive oil and flour, combined with warm milk and eggs, resulting in a silky smooth texture and a heavenly golden crust when baked to perfection.
Pastitsio can be customized to suit various dietary preferences and tastes. Vegetarians can enjoy a delectable vegetarian version by substituting the meat with sautéed vegetables, while those with gluten sensitivities can opt for gluten-free pasta without compromising on taste.
After visiting Greece several times, it is an absolute pleasure to make and enjoy this dish, Greek Pastitsio, right at home. With every bite, I am reminded of the warm hospitality and rich culinary heritage of Greece. It’s a culinary masterpiece that brings a taste of Greece into my kitchen, allowing me to relive those cherished moments and share them with loved ones.
Serving Pastitsio is a joyous occasion in Greek households. As the golden-brown dish comes out from the oven it fills the air with its tantalizing aroma. Each slice is a work of art, revealing layers of pasta, meat sauce, and béchamel with an amazing blend of flavors.
How to make Greek Pastitsio
To prepare the meat sauce, heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the chopped onion for 5 minutes until it softens. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute until it becomes fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste and sauté for 1-2 minutes more. Next, add the ground meat and cook it until it changes color, breaking it up with a spoon. Incorporate the tomato puree, cinnamon, sugar, salt, black pepper, and bay leaves. Simmer the sauce over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes until the meat is cooked and the sauce is reduced. Remove the pan from the heat, discard the bay leaves, and set the sauce aside.
For the pastitsio pasta, cook the pasta in salted water according to the package instructions until it reaches the al dente stage. Drain the pasta and brush a 10×14 inch (25x35cm) pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the drained pasta, Greek Kefalotyri or Parmesan cheese, and fresh parsley. Toss to coat the pasta and set it aside. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
To prepare the bechamel sauce, heat olive oil in a medium heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and stir until smooth and bubbling, approximately 1 minute. Gradually stir in the milk until the mixture becomes smooth. While stirring continuously, gradually pour in the beaten eggs. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cook the sauce while stirring constantly until it boils and begins to thicken.
How to assemble the pastitsio
To assemble the pastitsio, spread the meat sauce evenly over the pasta layer in the prepared pan. Pour the bechamel sauce over the meat sauce, spreading it evenly. Sprinkle Greek Kefalotyri or Parmesan cheese on top. Bake the dish for 40-45 minutes or until it turns golden brown. Allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes before cutting and serving.
Whether you’re sharing it with loved ones at a family gathering or simply treating yourself to a taste of Greece, Greek Pastitsio is sure to transport you to the sun-kissed shores of the Mediterranean. So, grab a fork, savor each bite, and let the flavors of Greece dance on your palate. Hope you will try it out and enjoy it as much as we did. If you do, make sure to share the photos with me on Instagram. Enjoy!
Other pasta recipes you may like to try
Dive into a classic Italian favorite with our Spaghetti with baked Meatballs. Perfectly cooked spaghetti noodles are paired with tender, flavorful meatballs, all smothered in a rich and savory tomato sauce. It’s a comforting and satisfying dish that will transport you straight to Italy.
Experience the ultimate comfort food with our Homemade Lasagna. Layer upon layer of tender lasagna noodles, savory meat sauce, creamy bechamel sauce, and melted mozzarella come together to create a mouthwatering symphony of flavors. Baked to perfection, this homemade delight is a true Italian classic.
Indulge in our irresistible Spaghetti Pie, a family-favorite recipe. With a spaghetti crust, creamy ricotta, savory tomato and meat sauce, and a generous topping of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, this golden-brown pie is a mouthwatering delight.
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For the Meat Sauce
- 2 tbsp (30g) olive oil
- 2 medium onions (6oz – 180g) , chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic , minced
- 1/3 cup (70g) tomato paste
- 1 ⅔ pounds (750g) ground beef
- 1 can (14oz- 400g) tomato puree
- 1 tsp (5g) salt
- 1 tsp (5g) sugar
- 1/2 tsp (1g) ground black pepper
- 1/3 tsp (1g) cinnamon
- bay leaves
For the Pasta
- 1 pound (500g) Greek pasta, Bucatini No.2
- 2 tbsp (30g) olive oil
- 1/4 cup (25g) Greek Kefalotyri or Parmesan cheese , grated
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley
For Bechamel Sauce
- 1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
- 2/3 cup (80g) all-purpose flour
- 4 cups (1 liter) milk
- 1/2 tsp (1g) nutmeg
- 3/4 tsp (4g) salt
- 3 large eggs , beaten
- 1/2 cup (50g) Greek Kefalotyri or Parmesan cheese
Prepare the meat sauce.
- In a large pan heat oil over medium-high heat.
- Add chopped onion and sauté for 5 minutes, until softened.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more until fragrant.
- Stir in the tomato paste and sauté for 1-2 minutes more.
- Now, add the ground meat. Cook until it changes its raw color. Break it up using a spoon.
- Add the tomato puree, cinnamon, sugar, salt, black pepper and bay leaves.
- Simmer the sauce over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes until the meat is cooked and the sauce is reduced.
- Remove from heat, discard the bay leaves and set aside.
Prepare the pastitsio pasta.
- Cook the pasta to the al dente stage in salted water according to package instructions.
- Drain the pasta.
- Brush a 10×14 inch (25x35cm) pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Add the drained pasta, the Greek Kefalotyri or Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.
- Toss to coat and set aside.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
Prepare the bechamel sauce.
- In a medium heavy saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the flour and stir until smooth, for about 1 minute, until bubbling.
- Gradually stir in milk, until the mixture is smooth.
- While stirring continuously, gradually pour the beaten eggs.
- Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Cook while stirring constantly until the sauce boils and begin to thicken.
Assemble the pastitsio.
- Spread the meat sauce evenly over the pasta layer.
- Pour the bechamel sauce over the meat sauce. Spread evenly.
- Sprinkle Greek Kefalotyri or Parmesan cheese on top.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.
- Let it rest for at least 30 minutes before cutting and serving. Enjoy!