This Pastitsio Recipe Will Be Your Go-To Comfort Food On Chilly Evenings
The Mediterranean diet is one of the few eating philosophies that's simultaneously healthy for your body and totally free from restriction and deprivation. The happy coincidence, of course, is that Mediterranean cuisine is incredibly delicious. From fresh vegetables to delectable seafood recipes, food from this region is nourishing, colorful, and packed with flavor. Something we don't always associate with Mediterranean-inspired meals? Comfort food. Enter pastitsio, a baked pasta dish hailing from Greece that's filling, hearty, and absolutely perfect for cold fall and winter evenings. You're going to want to bookmark this one.
Tomato Meat Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
Bechamel and Pasta:
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 stick salted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups Pecorino Romano or fresh Parmesan, divided
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 sheep yogurt or Greek yogurt
- 3/4 pound small shell pasta
- Chopped fresh parsley
Tomato Meat Sauce:
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pot or deep pan.
- Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add in ground beef and ground lamb, and sauté for an additional 8-10 minutes until no longer pink, breaking up with a wooden spatula or spoon.
- Drain off excess fat, then add in balsamic vinegar and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add in garlic, cinnamon, oregano, and thyme, and continue cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, and simmer for 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Heat milk and cream together in a saucepan over low heat until simmering.
- In a separate saucepan, melt the butter.
- Add the flour and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for 2 minutes.
- Pour the milk mixture into the butter mixture, whisking constantly.
- Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until smooth and thick.
- Add in nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Stir in half of the Pecorino or Parmesan and 1/2 cup of the tomato meat sauce until well mixed.
- Cool for 10 minutes.
- Whisk eggs in a bowl, then add to the sauce along with the yogurt, and set aside.
How It All Comes Together:
- Cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente.
- Drain and set aside.
- Mix the cooked pasta to the tomato meat sauce, then add to a large baking dish.
- Spread the béchamel evenly over the pasta, then sprinkle remaining Pecorino or Parmesan on top.
- Bake for 1 hour until golden brown. Serve hot and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.
To make gluten-free, just sub the flour for gluten-free all purpose flour, and the pasta for gluten-free pasta!
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Recipe and photos by Sarah Anderson.