Forget lasagna – Greek pastitsio is the new pasta bake to beat

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Italian-baked pastas like lasagna and ziti have had their day in the sun. The new baked pasta to beat is Greek! The recipe below, known as pastitsio, is made with a combination of pasta, meat sauce and creamy béchamel. Baked until crispy on top, it's a filling, delicious dinner treat.
The meat sauce in this recipe boasts some rather unique flavors, thanks to the addition of spices more frequently associated with sweeter dishes. Cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice join a combination of ground beef and lamb for a dish that's positively bursting with flavor. A tangy feta cheese topping really seals the deal.
Cooktop Cove
Greek Pastitsio
30 minutes
2 hours
2 hours 30 minutes
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground lamb
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 16-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pound penne pasta
8 tablespoons butter
8 tablespoons flour
5 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs
4 ounces feta cheese
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Heat the butter and olive oil together in a heavy-bottomed pan over high heat. Add the beef and cook until nicely browned on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Brown the lamb in the same way and set aside with the beef.
Drain off all but one tablespoon of the fat and add the onion. Season with a pinch of salt and cook until soft and slightly caramelized, 7-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with the red wine.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, bay leaves and spices. Return the meat to the pan, season to taste with salt and pepper, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until thickened.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente.
Meanwhile, make the béchamel. Heat the butter and flour over medium heat in a pot, whisking to combine. When the mixture begins to bubble, add a ladleful of milk and whisk well to combine. When the milk is well-incorporated, add another ladleful of milk. Continue adding milk, whisking well after each addition, until all of the milk has been added. Cook until thick, then remove from the heat. Season with salt and nutmeg.
Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl until well-combined. Add a ladleful of the béchamel from a height, whisking well to keep the eggs from curdling. Add three ladlefuls of béchamel in this way, whisking constantly. Transfer this mixture back to the béchamel, whisking well to combine.
When the pasta is cooked, drain well and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the meat sauce, and toss to combine.
Pour the meat sauce and pasta mixture into a 9-by-13 casserole dish. Top with the béchamel, followed by the feta cheese. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until nicely browned on top. Allow to cool 15-20 minutes before serving.
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