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Pastitsio Recipe

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This recipe for Pastitsio, by , is from The Young Family Cookbook, one of the cookbooks created at We'll help you start your own personal cookbook! It's easy and fun. Click here to start your own cookbook!

Megan Young


For meat sauce:
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 pounds ground lamb
1 (28-ounces) can whole tomatoes in juice
1 (15-ounces) can whole tomatoes in juice
2 Tsp dried thyme
1 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ¼ teaspoons ground allspice
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves

For béchamel sauce:
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
7 cups whole milk
¾ teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or kefalotyri cheese (2 ounces)
5 large egg yolks

For pasta:
2 pounds caviatappi, ziti or other tube-shaped pasta
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or kefalotyri cheese

Make meat sauce:
Cook onions in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Increase heat to high, then stir in lamb and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up any lumps with a fork, until meat starts to brown, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, drain both cans of tomatoes, reserving juice, and chop. Pour off excess fat from skillet, then stir in tomatoes with their juice, thyme, spices, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Simmer over low heat, partially covered, until some liquid has evaporated but sauce is still moist, about 40 minutes.
Make béchamel while meat sauce simmers:
Melt butter in a heavy medium pot over medium heat. Whisk in flour, then cook roux, whisking frequently, until pale golden, about 6 minutes. Meanwhile, heat milk in a heavy medium saucepan until just about to boil. Add milk to roux in a stream, whisking constantly until very smooth. Bring sauce to a boil over medium heat, whisking, then cook, whisking, 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in nutmeg, cheese, and 1 tablespoon salt. Lightly beat yolks in a bowl. Gradually whisk in 2 cups béchamel, then whisk yolk mixture into remaining béchamel in saucepan.
Cook pasta and assemble pastitsio:
Preheat oven to 375° with rack in middle. Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain pasta, then return to pot and stir in 1 cup béchamel. Arrange one third of pasta lengthwise in 1 layer in a large baking pan (at least 2 inches deep). Add half of meat sauce to baking pan, spreading evenly over pasta. Make another layer of pasta and top with remaining meat sauce, then arrange remaining pasta on top. Spread remaining béchamel evenly over top layer of pasta. Sprinkle cheese evenly over top of pastitsio. Bake until sauce is bubbling, about 45 minutes.

Pastitsio can be baked 1 day ahead and chilled (covered once cool). Reheat in a 350°F oven, covered, until heated through, about 45 minutes.

Number Of Servings:
Number Of Servings:
Preparation Time:
Preparation Time:
1.5 hours
Personal Notes:
Personal Notes:
I first had pastitsio at Cafe Zesty in Manayunk and loved the lasagne-type baked pasta but with Greek flavors and creamy béchamel. A paper copy of this recipe, originally found on Epicurious, is tucked into my recipe binder, well-covered with flour and meat sauce stains.




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