I’m not sure what prompted me to run a recipe for pastitsio, the Greek baked pasta dish, in our USA Weekend column a couple of months ago. Maybe I was looking for an alternative to lasagna. Maybe I was drawn to the dish’s warm spices, but since then I’ve gotten scores of e-mails from readers looking for the recipe. Finally, here it is on our site along with a video and tips for making it.
Although lasagna will always be part of my repertoire, pastitisio has certainly broadened and enlivened my list of fun, make-ahead budget-friendly party dishes. Sharon, who spent a semester in Greece her junior year, tells me this version tastes exactly like the pastitsio she sampled when she was there.
I love the warm-spiced sauce which you can make with either lamb or ground beef. Some have questioned the cinnamon amount in the sauce. Yes, we mean 4 teaspoons–it’s not a mistake! If that seems too spicy for you, start with 2 teaspoons and increase to taste, knowing the cinnamon will calm as the sauce simmers. I also love the white sauce made light with a mix of evaporated milk and and broth and made full- flavored with Parmesan cheese and garlic.
Next time your mind knee-jerks to lasagna, consider pastitsio. Served with a Greek salad–lettuce, tomatoes, feta, red onion, briny olives, and couple big pinches of dried oregano–you’ve got a great meal with broad appeal with plenty of leftovers that refrigerate and freeze well.
Great Recipe! I can’t wait to try this. Rest your voice Pam, sounds like you’re a little under the weather. I’m not a fan of lasagna, but this is right up my alley.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I had not heard of or tried Pastitisio until the fall. Now, it’s one of my favorite dishes. I love this recipe – creamy, warm, spicy – all things I love. I’ll be making it for years to come.
Sylvia Lausted says
Yum! This looks wonderful and would taste great on a chilly spring evening. I did wonder though, when you add the eggs, if you had any problems with them turning into scrambled eggs? Would it help to temper them? Regardless, this is a dish that I am going to try this week.
I tried this recipe tonight, and everything about it was fabulous! All members of the fanmily had seconds and then squabbled over who has dibs on the leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch. A resounding success! BTW, the eggs did not curdle when added to the bechamel.
Pam here. I’m out of the country and not checking my e-mail frequently. Looks like you answered your own question–often the best way, eh?
I must admit, it’s been a long time since i’ve had pastitsio. About 5 years ago my mother died and she was full blooded Greek. So when i saw this recipe it brought back memories, even thought i’m not sure how she made it. I eagerly bought all the ingredients and proceeded to make it, all the while thinking of all the good times I had with my big extended Greek family. I told my cousin Mitzi and Gus to bring the family over cause i found a recipe for Pastitsio. They were thrilled. We started eating and a look came over all of our faces. Don’t get me wrong, but it was bland. Did you consult with a real Greek when you made this, cause i found my mothers original recipe. Us Greeks love spices, yes the cinnamon and nutmeg where good, but you left out the wonderful taste of lemon. If you add a 1/4 to a half cup of lemon juice to the white sauce, and instead of parmesan cheese(italian) use feta cheese you will see the difference. But as many Greeks are, we forgot about it after a couple of bottles of Ouzo. Thanks for helping me remember the good old days.
It’s so funny that you should write us and say our pastitsio is bland when I’ve heard from others that it’s too spicy! I guess we all have our own tastes and it’s important to use recipes as guides and to follow our instincts. We love lemon juice, so we’ll have to give that a try . In the meantime, glad you enjoyed the post.