Pastitsio (aka Greek Lasagna)

My sister Leah and I have been trying to have the family together for Sunday lunches on a regular basis. Ideally, every Sunday. Yea tradition!

We did ok for a short while, but it sounds easier than it is. You have to come up with menus that can be made ahead, or cooking while your at church, with very little to do once home. It's a good idea and everyone loves it but, well, the get togethers have not been very regular but we're still trying.

Anyway, the last time I had everyone over I made Pastitsio.

Man I love this stuff. It's a greek lasagna.
The recipe I used is from Ina Garten. The original can be found on Food Network website.

There are a few steps to making it, but they're not hard and it's a good dish to make the day before. I assembled the whole thing, but waited to cook it until we were going to eat.

Here's how you make it. I would call this step by step, but evidently 
I forgot to take pictures of them all.

Saute onion, then add beef and lamb. I actually made mine with all beef.

Set down your glass of wine and add some to the pot.

Here's what I used. It's really tasty and doesn't cost much. This big bottle runs around $13.

Cook for a few and add spices.

Then add the crushed tomatoes.

While the tomato sauce simmers, start the bechamel....

Mix cream and milk and heat to a simmer.

Melt the butter, then whisk in the flour (not pictured).

Add the milk/cream mixture and cook until thick.

It'll end up looking something like this.

Grate in some fresh nutmeg, and add salt and pepper.

Grate up some parmesan...

and add it with a little of the tomato sauce. Let it cool, then stir in the yogurt and eggs.

Here's where the pictures get, well, there are no pictures. But, it's ok cause there's not
much left to do. Just cook the pasta and add it to the meat sauce. Pour it into the baking dish,
spread with the bechamel and sprinkle on the rest of the parmesan.

It should come out of the oven looking something like this.

Doesn't this look good. It's a nice twist from just ordinary lasagna.
It was a huge hit with everyone.

Layered deliciousness.

Leah brought the dessert. It was really good, oh, and low in fat which was a
good thing because the Pastitsio definitely is not.

It was  angle food cake filled with lemon curd and covered in whipped topping.
It was delicious, light and refreshing,,,, a great summer dessert.


For the Tomato Meat Sauce:

1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (1 large)
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound lean ground lamb 
1/2 cup dry red wine 
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 large cloves)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 
1 teaspoon dried oregano 
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves 
Pinch of Cayenne pepper 
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes in puree 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Bechamel:

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan or Kasseri cheese
2 extra-large eggs, beaten
2/3 cup Greek-style yogurt, such as Fage Total
3/4 pound small shells

For the sauce, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the beef and lamb, and saute over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until it's no longer pink, crumbling it with the back of wooden spoon.

Drain off any excess liquid, add the wine, and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the garlic, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, and cayenne, and continue cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40 to 45 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the bechamel, heat the milk and cream together in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until simmering. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for 2 minutes. Pour the warm milk and cream mixture into the butter and flour mixture, whisking constantly. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until smooth and thick. Add the nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of the tomato and meat sauce, and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the eggs and yogurt and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Don't over-cook because the pasta will later be baked. Drain and set aside.

Add the pasta to the meat and tomato sauce, and pour the mixture into a baking dish. Spread the bechamel evenly to cover the pasta and sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 1 hour, until golden brown and bubbly. Set aside for 10 minutes and serve hot.


  1. this looks so good...thinking I'll be trying it.

    1. It really was. Instantly became a favorite.