Greek Pastitsio Bake Recipe

Pastitsio is a beloved Greek dish that offers a comforting blend of pasta, savory meat sauce, and creamy béchamel. Layer upon layer of these delectable ingredients bake together to create a meal that is satisfyingly rich and full of flavor. This recipe, with a hint of cinnamon, showcases the dish's unique Greek touch.

Greek Pastitsio Bake Recipe
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The key ingredients for Greek Pastitsio are ground beef and lamb, which you can easily find at a local butcher or supermarket. The use of two types of meat adds a depth of flavor to the dish. If you don't usually have cinnamon in your spice rack, you'll need to pick some up. A pinch adds a hint of sweet warmth that is characteristic of many Greek dishes. You will also need a good quality Parmesan cheese for the béchamel sauce.

Ingredients for Greek Pastitsio Bake

Ground lamb: This is used to give the meat sauce a rich, hearty flavor. If you can't find ground lamb, you can use all ground beef.

Ground beef: Ground beef is a staple in many homes, and it adds a familiar, savory taste to the dish.

Olive oil: Used for sautéing the onions and bell peppers, olive oil is a healthy fat that adds a light, fruity flavor.

Yellow onion and red bell pepper: These vegetables add a bit of crunch and a slightly sweet flavor to the meat sauce.

Garlic cloves: Adding garlic gives the dish a slightly spicy, aromatic note.

Tomato sauce and tomato paste: Both are used to create the rich tomato base for the meat sauce.

Spices (salt, pepper, cinnamon, bay leaf): These seasonings enhance the flavors of the meat and vegetables, and cinnamon adds a warm depth of flavor.

Penne pasta: This is the base of the dish. The tube shape holds the sauce well.

Unsalted butter: Used in the béchamel sauce, it adds a creamy, rich flavor.

Flour: This is used as a thickening agent in the béchamel sauce.

Whole milk: Adds creaminess to the béchamel sauce.

Eggs: They are used to bind the béchamel sauce and give it a rich, custardy texture.

Parmesan cheese: This hard, flavorful cheese adds a salty, nutty flavor to the béchamel sauce.

One reader, Alex Quarles says:

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This Greek pastitsio bake recipe is a game-changer! The flavors are rich and comforting, and the layers of pasta, meat sauce, and creamy béchamel are a match made in heaven. It's a family favorite and always a hit at gatherings. I highly recommend trying it out!

Alex Quarles

Key Techniques for Mastering Greek Pastitsio Bake

How to brown the meat: Cook the ground lamb and beef in a pan on medium-high heat for 5 to 7 minutes until browned, breaking it apart as it cooks.

How to make the tomato sauce: Combine the olive oil, onions, bell peppers, garlic, tomato sauce, tomato paste, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and bay leaf in a pan. Simmer on medium-low heat for 20 minutes until thickened.

How to make the béchamel sauce: Melt butter in a dutch oven on medium heat, whisk in the flour for 1 to 2 minutes, then slowly add the milk while whisking until fully combined. Cook on low heat for 10 to 12 minutes until thickened. Let cool for 10 minutes, then add salt, pepper, eggs, and parmesan cheese.

How To Make Greek Pastitsio Bake

Satisfy your pasta cravings with Greek pastitsio. It’s made with penne pasta, ground beef, creamy bechamel sauce and baked to perfection.

Preparation: 15 minutes
Cooking: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total: 1 hour 30 minutes

Serves:

Ingredients

  • 1lbground lamb
  • 1lbGround Beef
  • 2tbspolive oil
  • 1yellow oniondiced
  • 1red bell pepperdiced
  • 3garlic clovesminced
  • 15oztomato sauce
  • ¼cuptomato paste
  • 1tspkosher salt
  • ½tspblack peppercoarsely ground
  • ¼tspCinnamon
  • 1bay leaf
  • 1lbpenne pastacooked, not rinsed
  • 8tbspunsalted butter
  • ½cupflour
  • 3cupswhole milk
  • 1tspkosher salt
  • ¼tspblack peppercoarsely ground
  • 2largeeggs
  • 1cupparmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Add the beef and lamb to the pan on medium high heat and cook for about 5 to 7 minutes until browned, breaking it apart as it is cooking.

  2. Drain the oil. Add the olive oil to the pan on medium heat with the onions and bell peppers and cook for 5 to 7 minutes.

  3. Add in the garlic, tomato sauce, tomato paste, salt, pepper, cinnamon and bay leaf and cook on medium-low for 20 minutes, until thickened (halfway between pasta sauce and tomato paste).

  4. While the tomato sauce is simmering, add the butter and flour in a separate dutch oven on medium heat and whisk well for about 1 to 2 minutes until melted and combined.

  5. Add in the milk slowly while whisking until fully combined then cook on low heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until thickened.

  6. Let cool for 10 minutes, then add in the salt, pepper, eggs, and parmesan cheese.

  7. Layer the pasta first, then the meat sauce, then the béchamel sauce and bake at 350 degrees F uncovered for 50 to 60 minutes.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 569.39kcal
  • Fat: 33.12g
  • Saturated Fat: 15.47g
  • Trans Fat: 0.76g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 12.43g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.07g
  • Carbohydrates: 40.53g
  • Fiber: 2.60g
  • Sugar: 7.04g
  • Protein: 26.64g
  • Cholesterol: 120.31mg
  • Sodium: 638.01mg
  • Calcium: 257.44mg
  • Potassium: 584.65mg
  • Iron: 2.78mg
  • Vitamin A: 161.07µg
  • Vitamin C: 17.38mg

Essential Technique Tip for Perfect Greek Pastitsio Bake

When making the béchamel sauce, it's crucial to add the milk slowly and whisk continuously. This ensures a smooth and creamy sauce without any lumps. Also, allowing the sauce to cool before adding the eggs prevents them from scrambling. This results in a silky, rich béchamel that pairs perfectly with the robust flavors of the ground lamb and ground beef in the pastitsio.

Time-Saving Tips for Making Greek Pastitsio Bake

Prep ahead: Prepare the meat sauce and béchamel sauce a day in advance and store them in the refrigerator. This will save time on the day of cooking.

Use pre-shredded cheese: Opt for pre-shredded parmesan cheese to skip the time-consuming shredding process.

One-pot cooking: Consider using a large, deep skillet or pot to cook the meat sauce and pasta together, saving time on washing multiple dishes.

Batch cooking: Double the recipe and freeze half for a future meal, reducing the need for cooking from scratch next time.

Organized workspace: Before starting, ensure all ingredients and cooking tools are organized and easily accessible to streamline the cooking process.

Prep the ingredients: Chop, measure, and prepare all ingredients before starting to cook to avoid interruptions during the cooking process.

Substitute Ingredients For Greek Pastitsio Bake Recipe

  • ground lamb - Substitute with ground turkey: Ground turkey is a lean and flavorful alternative to ground lamb, and it will work well in the pastitsio bake recipe.
  • ground beef - Substitute with ground veal: Ground veal has a similar texture and flavor profile to ground beef, making it a suitable substitute for this recipe.
  • olive oil - Substitute with avocado oil: Avocado oil has a mild flavor and high smoke point, making it a great substitute for olive oil in cooking.
  • yellow onion - Substitute with white onion: White onions have a similar flavor to yellow onions and can be used as a substitute in this recipe.
  • red bell pepper - Substitute with orange bell pepper: Orange bell peppers have a slightly sweeter flavor compared to red bell peppers and can be a colorful substitute in the recipe.
  • garlic cloves - Substitute with garlic powder: Garlic powder can be used as a substitute for fresh garlic cloves, providing a similar flavor with the convenience of a dried spice.
  • tomato sauce - Substitute with crushed tomatoes: Crushed tomatoes can be used as a substitute for tomato sauce, providing a chunkier texture to the dish.
  • tomato paste - Substitute with ketchup: Ketchup can be used as a substitute for tomato paste, adding a hint of sweetness and tanginess to the recipe.
  • kosher salt - Substitute with sea salt: Sea salt can be used as a substitute for kosher salt, providing a similar level of salinity to the dish.
  • black pepper - Substitute with white pepper: White pepper can be used as a substitute for black pepper, providing a milder flavor and a lighter color to the dish.
  • cinnamon - Substitute with allspice: Allspice can be used as a substitute for cinnamon, providing a warm and aromatic flavor to the recipe.
  • bay leaf - Substitute with thyme: Thyme can be used as a substitute for bay leaf, adding a subtle earthy and floral note to the dish.
  • penne pasta - Substitute with ziti pasta: Ziti pasta is a suitable substitute for penne pasta, as it has a similar shape and texture, making it ideal for the recipe.
  • unsalted butter - Substitute with coconut oil: Coconut oil can be used as a substitute for unsalted butter, adding a hint of coconut flavor to the dish.
  • flour - Substitute with cornstarch: Cornstarch can be used as a substitute for flour to thicken the sauce in the recipe.
  • whole milk - Substitute with almond milk: Almond milk can be used as a substitute for whole milk, providing a creamy texture with a hint of nuttiness to the dish.
  • parmesan cheese - Substitute with pecorino romano cheese: Pecorino Romano cheese can be used as a substitute for parmesan cheese, providing a similar salty and tangy flavor to the dish.

Perfect Presentation Ideas for Your Greek Pastitsio Bake

  1. Elevate the plating: When presenting the Greek pastitsio bake, focus on creating a visually appealing plate. Use clean lines and carefully arrange the layers to showcase the different components of the dish.

  2. Garnish with fresh herbs: Add a touch of freshness and color to the dish by garnishing with freshly chopped parsley or oregano. This not only enhances the visual appeal but also adds a pop of flavor.

  3. Incorporate a drizzle of olive oil: Just before serving, delicately drizzle a high-quality olive oil over the pastitsio. This adds a luxurious sheen and a hint of richness to the dish.

  4. Consider individual servings: For a more refined presentation, consider serving the pastitsio in individual ramekins or molds. This creates an elegant and personalized dining experience.

  5. Use traditional Greek serving ware: To pay homage to the dish's Greek roots, consider serving the pastitsio on traditional Greek pottery or ceramic platters to add an authentic touch to the presentation.

  6. Accentuate with a sprinkle of cheese: Before serving, sprinkle a touch of freshly grated Parmesan cheese over the top of the pastitsio for a final touch of indulgence and savory flavor.

  7. Accompany with a side salad: Serve the pastitsio alongside a vibrant Greek salad to provide a refreshing contrast to the rich and hearty flavors of the main dish.

Essential Kitchen Tools for Making Greek Pastitsio Bake

  • Cutting board: A sturdy surface for chopping and preparing ingredients.
  • Chef's knife: A versatile and sharp knife for slicing, dicing, and chopping.
  • Skillet or frying pan: For browning the ground lamb and beef.
  • Wooden spoon: For stirring and mixing ingredients in the skillet.
  • Dutch oven: Used for making the béchamel sauce and assembling the pastitsio bake.
  • Whisk: Essential for blending the flour, butter, and milk for the béchamel sauce.
  • Baking dish: For assembling and baking the pastitsio.
  • Oven: To bake the pastitsio to perfection.
  • Saucepan: For simmering the tomato sauce.
  • Colander: For draining the cooked pasta.

Storing and Freezing Greek Pastitsio Bake: A Guide

  • Let the pastitsio cool completely to room temperature before storing or freezing. This will prevent condensation from forming and making the dish soggy.

  • To store in the refrigerator, cover the baking dish tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. It will keep well for up to 4 days in the fridge.

  • For longer storage, freeze the pastitsio. Cut it into individual portions and wrap each piece tightly in plastic wrap, then place them in a freezer-safe container or resealable bag. Label the container with the date and contents.

  • Frozen pastitsio will maintain its best quality for up to 3 months. To reheat, thaw the portions in the refrigerator overnight.

  • Place the thawed pastitsio in a baking dish and cover with foil. Bake in a preheated 350°F (175°C) oven for about 30 minutes, or until heated through. Remove the foil during the last 5-10 minutes of baking to crisp up the top layer.

  • Alternatively, you can reheat individual portions in the microwave. Place a piece on a microwave-safe plate and heat on high for 2-3 minutes, or until warmed through. The cooking time may vary depending on the strength of your microwave.

  • Avoid freezing the pastitsio with the béchamel sauce on top, as it may separate and become grainy when thawed. If possible, freeze the meat sauce and pasta separately, and prepare the béchamel sauce fresh when you're ready to reheat and serve.

How To Reheat Leftover Greek Pastitsio Bake

Here are the best methods for reheating leftover Greek pastitsio bake:

  • Oven method: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the leftover pastitsio in an oven-safe dish and cover it with aluminum foil. This will help prevent the top layer from drying out or burning. Bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until the dish is heated through. For a crispy top, remove the foil during the last 5-10 minutes of reheating.

  • Microwave method: If you're short on time, the microwave is a quick and easy option. Place a single serving of pastitsio on a microwave-safe plate and cover it with a damp paper towel. This will help keep the dish moist. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through. Keep in mind that the microwave may cause the béchamel sauce to separate slightly, but it will still taste delicious.

  • Stovetop method: For a more controlled reheating process, try using a double boiler on the stovetop. Place the leftover pastitsio in a heat-safe bowl that fits snugly over a pot of simmering water. Cover the bowl with a lid or aluminum foil and let the pastitsio steam for 15-20 minutes, or until heated through. This gentle reheating method will help maintain the texture of the pasta and prevent the sauces from drying out.

  • Skillet method: If you prefer a slightly crispy texture, reheat your leftover pastitsio in a skillet. Add a small amount of olive oil or butter to a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the pastitsio and spread it out evenly. Cover the skillet with a lid and let it heat for 5-7 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes, or until the bottom is crispy and the dish is heated through.

Regardless of the method you choose, be sure to reheat your leftover Greek pastitsio until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to ensure it's safe to consume. Enjoy your delicious, reheated meal!

Interesting Fact About Greek Pastitsio Bake

The Greek pastitsio bake recipe is a traditional Greek dish that combines layers of pasta, a rich meat sauce, and a creamy béchamel sauce. It is a popular comfort food in Greece and is often served at family gatherings and special occasions. The dish is flavored with aromatic spices like cinnamon and bay leaf, giving it a unique and delicious taste. Pastitsio is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed as a main course or as a side dish. It is a perfect meal for feeding a crowd and is sure to be a hit at any gathering. Try making this Greek pastitsio bake for a flavorful and satisfying meal.

Is Making Greek Pastitsio Bake at Home Cost-Effective?

This Greek Pastitsio Bake recipe is quite cost-effective for a household. The combination of ground lamb and ground beef provides a rich flavor, while the use of penne pasta and basic pantry staples keeps the cost reasonable. The dish yields approximately 8 servings, making it suitable for a family of 4 with potential leftovers. The estimated cost for a household of 4 people is around $25-$30, making it an economical choice for a hearty and satisfying meal. Overall Verdict: 9/10

Is Greek Pastitsio Bake Healthy or Unhealthy?

The Greek pastitsio bake recipe, while undeniably delicious, does have some aspects that could be considered unhealthy:

  • The recipe uses a significant amount of ground beef and lamb, which are high in saturated fat and calories
  • The béchamel sauce is made with butter, flour, and whole milk, adding more saturated fat and calories to the dish
  • The recipe calls for a cup of parmesan cheese, further increasing the fat and calorie content

However, the recipe also includes some healthy ingredients, such as:

  • Onions, garlic, and bell peppers, which provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
  • Tomato sauce and paste, offering lycopene and other beneficial compounds

To make this recipe healthier, consider the following suggestions:

  • Replace some or all of the ground beef and lamb with leaner proteins like ground turkey or chicken
  • Use a combination of whole wheat and regular penne pasta to increase the fiber content
  • Reduce the amount of butter in the béchamel sauce and substitute some of the whole milk with low-fat or skim milk
  • Incorporate more vegetables into the meat sauce, such as grated zucchini or carrots, to boost the nutrient content and reduce the overall calorie density of the dish
  • Use a lighter hand when adding the parmesan cheese, or opt for a lower-fat cheese alternative

By making these adjustments, you can enjoy the rich flavors of this Greek pastitsio bake while also making it a more balanced and nutritious meal.

Editor's Opinion: Thoughts on Greek Pastitsio Bake Recipe

This Greek pastitsio bake recipe is a delightful fusion of flavors and textures. The combination of ground lamb and beef, aromatic spices, and creamy béchamel sauce creates a harmonious balance. The layers of penne pasta, rich meat sauce, and velvety béchamel meld together beautifully, resulting in a comforting and satisfying dish. The use of traditional Greek ingredients and cooking techniques adds an authentic touch to this recipe, making it a standout choice for a hearty and flavorful meal.

Enhance Your Greek Pastitsio Bake Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes infused with roasted garlic and a hint of parmesan cheese, perfect for soaking up the rich flavors of the pastitsio bake.
Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Zest: Tender asparagus spears grilled to perfection and finished with a sprinkle of fresh lemon zest, adding a bright and refreshing contrast to the hearty pastitsio bake.
Honey Glazed Carrots with Thyme: Sweet and tender carrots glazed with honey and aromatic thyme, providing a touch of sweetness and earthy flavor to complement the savory notes of the pastitsio bake.

Delicious Alternatives to Greek Pastitsio Bake

Mediterranean Stuffed Bell Peppers: Use a mixture of ground lamb, rice, tomatoes, and spices to stuff bell peppers, then bake until tender and delicious.
Lemon Garlic Roasted Chicken: Marinate chicken in a mixture of lemon, garlic, and herbs, then roast until golden and juicy for a flavorful and satisfying meal.
Summer Berry Crisp: Combine fresh berries with a crumbly oat topping and bake until bubbly and golden for a delightful summer dessert.
Butternut Squash Soup: Simmer butternut squash with onions, garlic, and broth, then blend until smooth for a comforting and creamy soup.
Grilled Peach Salad: Grill peaches and toss with mixed greens, goat cheese, and a balsamic vinaigrette for a sweet and savory summer salad.

Appetizers and Desserts to Complement Greek Pastitsio Bake

Appetizers:
Spinach and Artichoke Dip: Creamy and indulgent, this dip is the perfect way to start off any meal. The combination of spinach, artichokes, and gooey cheese will have your guests coming back for more.
Stuffed Mushrooms: These savory bites are filled with a delicious mixture of breadcrumbs, cheese, and herbs. They're the perfect finger food to kick off any gathering.
Desserts:
Chocolate Mousse: Indulge in a rich and velvety chocolate mousse, perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth. The smooth and creamy texture will melt in your mouth with every spoonful, leaving you craving for more.
Tiramisu: Transport yourself to Italy with a classic tiramisu. Layers of delicate ladyfingers soaked in coffee and layered with a luscious mascarpone cream, dusted with cocoa powder for a touch of bitterness. This elegant dessert is the perfect way to end any meal.

Why trust this Greek Pastitsio Bake Recipe:

This Greek Pastitsio Bake Recipe is a delightful fusion of flavors and textures, combining the richness of ground lamb and beef with a fragrant blend of cinnamon and bay leaf. The creamy béchamel sauce adds a luxurious touch, while the layers of penne pasta soak up the savory tomato sauce. With a balance of traditional Mediterranean ingredients and a modern twist, this recipe promises a satisfying and comforting dining experience, perfect for sharing with loved ones. Trust in the heritage and craftsmanship of this dish to elevate your culinary journey.

Share your thoughts on this delicious Greek Pastitsio Bake recipe in the Recipe Sharing forum and let us know if you have any tips or variations to suggest!
FAQ:
Can I use a different type of meat instead of lamb and beef?
Yes, you can substitute the lamb and beef with ground turkey, chicken, or pork if you prefer.
Can I make this recipe ahead of time?
Absolutely! You can assemble the pastitsio ahead of time and refrigerate it until you're ready to bake it. Just be sure to adjust the baking time to account for the dish being cold from the fridge.
Can I freeze the pastitsio?
Yes, you can freeze the pastitsio either before or after baking. If freezing before baking, assemble the dish and freeze it in a freezer-safe container. If freezing after baking, let it cool completely, then wrap it tightly before freezing.
Can I use a different type of pasta?
While penne is traditionally used in pastitsio, you can certainly use other types of pasta such as ziti or rigatoni if that's what you have on hand.
Can I omit the cinnamon from the meat sauce?
If you're not a fan of cinnamon, you can leave it out. It adds a subtle warmth to the dish, but the recipe will still be delicious without it.

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