This easy Greek pastitsio (pastichio) recipe is one of my all time favourite comfort foods. It’s the Greek version of lasagne, pasta, minced (ground) beef and lovely creamy white sauce. Seriously, what’s not to like in this plateful of aromatic goodness.
Easy Greek pastitsio (pastichio) recipe
Pastitsio, or pastichio is almost as popular as the famous moussaka of Greece. It is a rich mixture of aromatic minced beef with luxuriously creamy bechamel sauce and of course pasta.
Pastitsio, Greek macaroni and meat pie, fabulous! This is old fashioned comfort food and holds so many memories for me.
But this is not a traditional pastitsio recipe in that I’m not using bechamel sauce, instead I’m going for a lighter healthier version of this classic Greek recipe.
I first came across Pastitsio when I worked on the island of Spetses oh so many years ago. There were two tavernas on the beach, the main one that was your basic everyday kind of place, and the one set a little behind that was more expensive and for a treat now and then.
This is where I first tasted Pastitsio and so far it’s the best I’ve ever had.
Pastitsio is a meat and macaroni dish, hearty and filling and to me it’s the perfect comfort food. It’s my daughter Imogen’s favourite dish and I make it once a month and probably more than that in the winter.
Pasta for pastitsio
Traditionally pastitsio is made using Bucatini pasta. That’s a pasta that looks rather like very wide sticks of spaghetti but with a hole right down the middle so that the sticks of pasta are actually long tubes.
Alas, this sort of pasta is not readily available in our local supermarkets here in Scotland so I use macaroni instead.
It’s so easy to buy and cooks up a treat in this pastitsio recipe. You can also use penne pasta in pastitsio too.
Ingredients for pastitsio
There seems like a lot of ingredients here but please don’t be put off by that. A lot of the list is pinches of this and that in the spices department.
Basically you are going to be making a meat in tomato sauce, a creamy white sauce and boiling up some macaroni. Nothing to panic about.
Pastitsio is packed with flavour. It’s a mixture of spices that come together to create a really well-rounded flavour for the minced beef/ground beef.
Honestly, this takes good old mince to a whole new level. I use cumin, ground allspice, cloves, ground coriander, cinnamon and of course salt and pepper to make up my spice blend and this really packs a punch.
Creamy white sauce
I don’t use the traditional bechamel sauce in my pastitsio. I go for a lighter version of this classic white sauce. Using a milk and Greek yogurt combo (you can even make your own Greek style yogurt with this easy recipe) and parmesan cheese.
You would normally use Greek Kefalotiri cheese, but that isn’t readily available out here in the Scottish countryside.
Can you freeze this pastitsio
Yes, simply save any leftovers in a freezer-proof box and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost thoroughly and make sure it is piping hot when you serve your pastitsio.
Looking for some more Greek recipes to try, then check these out;
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Easy Greek pastitsio recipe
- Meat and sauce mixture:
- 200 g/7oz macaroni
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 250 g/9oz minced beef or lamb
- 400 g/14oz can of chopped tomatoes
- 35 ml/1 1/2fl oz dry white wine
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- pinch ground cloves
- pinch ground cinnamon
- pinch ground coriander
- salt and pepper to taste
- 50 g/2oz grated Kefalotiri/parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
White sauce mix
- 20 g/3/4oz butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 200 ml/7fl oz milk
- 100 ml/3 1/2fl oz Greek yogurt
- 1 egg beaten
- 25 g/1oz grated Kefalotiri/parmesan cheese
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- pinch grated nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gs4
- Boil the macaroni in plenty of salted water till al dente, drain and set aside.
- Heat oil in pan and saute the onion for 3 mins then add the garlic for 1 more minute.
- Add the mince and brown.
- Add the tinned tomatoes and all spices and seasoning and simmer for 20 minutes till some of the liquid has evaporated.
- In a separate pan melt the butter and stir in the flour to form a paste.
- Beat the egg in a small bowl with the grated cheese.
- Mix milk and yogurt and gradually add this to the flour paste and stir till smooth and the sauce will start to thicken.
- Pour a little of this into the egg mix and combine well and then add this to the pan with the rest of the sauce and stir in the lemon juice and nutmeg, stir well and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Grease a baking dish and layer the mince mixture and pasta then half the grated cheese then the white sauce.
- Top with remaining cheese and bake for 30-40 minutes till golden on top.
- Sprinkle with the parsley to serve.