Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Opa! It's time for Pastitsio!

One thing I love about this region is the abundance of great Greek food.  Last week a group of co-workers and I headed down the street to the Greek Orthodox Church for its last community luncheon of the summer season.  The food is always spectacular, but the final luncheon, in my opinion, is the best – it’s the one when they serve Pastitsio, Tiropita and Dolmathes.

Please allow me to translate…
Pastitsio is a layered pasta and meat casserole with a rich and creamy topping.

Tiropita or cheese pie is a feta and egg mixture baked inside layers of buttery, melt in your mouth phyllo dough.

Dolmathes are grape leaves stuffed with beef and lamb, rice and savory seasonings.

Hungry yet?
All of these foods were wonderful, but it was the pastitsio that drew huge raves (and a little drool) from our group.  With that said, I think it’s only fitting that I share the directions on how to make this classic Greek dish.

I am pretty sure that Greek goddesses eat pastitsio every chance they get………..I know this Cowgirl does J.

Assembling pastitsio is easy with a three-step process that includes the preparation of the pasta, the meat sauce and béchamel or cream sauce.

Meat Sauce
1 ½ lbs. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
Salt and pepper to taste
8 oz. can tomato sauce

1 lb. Bucatini or other tubular shaped pasta like Penne or Ziti
1 stick butter, melted
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 c. Kefalotyri or Parmesan cheese, grated

Béchamel sauce
1 stick butter
6 heaping tablespoons flour
Pinch of salt
2 ½ c. milk, lukewarm
3 large eggs
More grated cheese for topping

Cook pasta according to directions, drain and set aside. 

In a large frying pan, brown beef and onions, drain well.  Add salt, pepper, cinnamon and allspice to meat mixture.   Then add tomato sauce and simmer for a few minutes.  Set aside to cool.
In a saucepan, melt butter. 

Add flour 1 spoonful at a time, whisking until smooth.  Add salt and milk slowly, stirring constantly.  Bring to a boil to thicken. 

Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.  Add eggs, whisking until well mixed. 


In a large bowl, mix pasta, butter, cheese and eggs.

Preheat oven to 350°.  Coat a 9” x 13” baking pan with cooking spray.  Layer 2/3 of the pasta, the meat sauce and the remaining pasta. 

Pour béchamel sauce evenly over the pasta.  Sprinkle with grated cheese. 

Bake for approximately 1 hour or until golden brown on top. 


Have a great week!

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