Greek Pastitsio Recipe
November 13, 2017 | Updated May 22, 2019 | By Suzy Karadsheh | 40 Comments
Today, we are talking comfort food, Greek style. I’m sharing my mom’s version of Greek pastitsio, a delectable, flavor-packed baked pasta. Serves a crowd, and they won’t even know that it’s lightened up!
If I were to ask you about a dish that might have defined the holidays for you as a child, what would it be? For me, it’s Greek pastitsio, but in our Egyptian household, this casserole was known by its literal translation: macaroni béchamel.
What is Greek Pastitsio?
Incidentally, pastitsio translates to “hodgepodge.” No problem here! Aren’t the best of homemade casseroles basically a glorious hodgepodge?!
And if you need a reference point, think of pastitsio as a baked pasta casserole or Greek lasagna.
This is a lightened up Greek pastitsio of three layers: pasta; lean meat sauce; and a topping of creamy smooth béchamel made with quality extra virgin olive oil and only 2% milk.
Each layer infused with just enough flavor.
Pasta tossed with olive oil and a little Parmesan cheese. A tomato meat sauce with red wine, aromatics, and warm spices like cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Finally, a lighter béchamel sauce with just a pinch of nutmeg for good measure. Some add more cheese to the béchamel, but I don’t find the need to.
What to serve along?
In my book, this Greek baked pasta is up there with Moussaka as the stuff of gods! A guilty pleasure that is worthy of the holiday table or your next special dinner. Love adding Greek salad or balela (recipe coming) next to it!
Can this Greek Pastitsio Be baked in Advance?
If you need to prepare Pastitsio in advance, you can prepare the different components–pasta, meat sauce, and bechamel–the night before. Store separately in the fridge and assemble before baking. Or, you can certainly assemble the pastitsio in your casserole dish, but do not bake. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Bake the next day when you are ready.
Can you freeze cooked Pastitsio?
This pasta casserole does feed a big crowd. If you end up with leftovers, you can certainly freeze cooked pastitsio in portions and thaw in the fridge overnight. When ready, heat in a medium-heated oven until warmed through.