This is probably the most popular dish in our house and is a speciality of my husband John who really enjoys making it. He sends off photos of his work to his Greek friends in an ongoing competition that spans the globe. This is his Greek ‘lasagna’ recipe and it’s been tested immeasurable times.
It’s always a big hit with children and we always make a huge batch as it freezes well too.
Pastitsio is said to have originated in Syros, the capital of the Cyclades islands which was occupied by the Venetians for many years. Their influence is still evident today in the beautiful neo-classical architecture of the island and dishes like Pastitsio that is often called ‘Greek Lasagna’.
Whilst the ingredients and layering technique are very similar to Lasagna it has less emphasis on the tomato-meat sauce and more on the creamy Bechamel and pasta. Personally we prefer it of course and find it a little less rich and a little more moorish.
The pasta that is usually used in Greece is a long thin macaroni called Perciatelli. If you can’t get this then Penne is a good substitute but it is important to use a pasta that has a hole through it as the sauce seeps in and makes it extra delicious.
The addition of cinnamon is also important and is an influence of the Ottomans. This adds an extra level of flavour to a lot of Greek dishes and it’s how you can tell if something is truly authentic and not westernised.
You can use many kinds of cheese but we prefer a mixture of cheddar, parmesan, and a little mozzarella for the filling to make it extra gooey, and cheddar and parmesan for the Bechamel and topping.
The dish can be eaten straight away but is much better left at least an hour when it firms up and is easy to cut into slices ( hence the extra hour resting time).
Serve with a Greek Salad and good red wine and you’ve got the perfect, balanced meal!
Ready for the oven
AUTHENTIC GREEK LASAGNE RECIPE
This is the Greek version of Lasagna. A classic dish loved by all families and a firm favourite in our house.
- 1 packet of long macaroni - aka Perciatelli pasta
- 1 kilo of mince, preferably half pork and half beef or veal
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 onions
- 2 cups of chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
- 2 cups of grated cheese
- 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
- salt and pepper
- 1/3 cup of butter
- 1/2 cup of flour
- 4 cups of milk
- 2 eggs
- More cheese - about 1 cup
- Heat the oil in the pot
- Saute the onions and garlic
- Add the tomatoes, herbs, spices and salt and pepper and stir well
- Simmer until aromatic and thickened
- Turn off the heat
- Boil the pasta in saltwater until just cooked and drain
- Beat the two egg whites and add to the pasta along with the cheese and stir
- For the Bechamel, melt the butter in another pot or saucepan
- Add the flour and stir constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon until a smooth paste
- Gradually pour in the milk and whisk over heat until a thick creamy sauce is achieved
- Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg
- Add the eggs and 1/2 cup of cheese stirring constantly
- In a large, deep pan arrange half the pasta evenly inside
- Cover with the meat sauce
- Cover with the rest of the pasta
- Cover with the Bechamel sauce and garnish with the rest of the cheese
- Bake for approximately 1 hour or until Golden Brown
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 656Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 202mgSodium: 477mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 47g