Mama Spice's
Pastitsio

(Greek LasagnA with Bechamel Sauce)

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When Greek's think about comfort food - this is it!  There is nothing more satisfying than a delicious piece of pastitsio... the flavor of the meat sauce, the cheesy creaminess of the bechamel all mixed with pasta.  Mmmm.... It can be served as an appetizer or as a meal.  When accompanied with a glass of red wine, all I can say is "Opa!"

This authentic Greek dish features Hungry Gene Greek Traditional Seasoning.  This blend of spices certainly has eliminated the challenge of getting that traditional Greek flavor of this all time classic meal.

Serves, 8-10

Prep Time, 20 Min

Total time, 1 hour 35 mins

Ingredients

For the Bechamel Sauce:

  • 8 ounces of lightly salted butter

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 12 ounce can of evaporated milk

  • 12 ounces of water

  • 4 egg yolks (reserve the egg whites for the noodles)

  • 1 pound of Parmesan cheese (Kraft Grated Parmesan Cheese works best)

  • Pinch of Hungry Gene Nutmeg

For the Noodles

  • 1 16 ounce package (450-500g) Misko Pastitsio No. 2 Pastitsio Pasta Noodles (alternatively you can use Ziti or Buccatini noodles)

  • 4 egg whites (the yolks are used in the bechamel sauce) slightly beaten

  • 4 ounces of Feta cheese, crumbled (Kasseri of Kefalotyri is traditionally used - can also substitute with Parmesan)

 

For the Meat Sauce

  • 1 pound of lean ground beef

  • 2 medium sized yellow onions, finely chopped

  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (alternatively you can use Hungry Gene California Minced Garlic)

  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste (for a thicker sauce you can use the whole 6 ounce can)

  • 1 14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes

  • 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce

  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

  • 4 tablespoons Hungry Gene Greek Traditional Seasoning

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Directions

Step 1:

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Step 2:

Start with the meat sauce. Pour the olive oil into a large skillet (or saute pan) over medium-high heat to thoroughly heat the pan.  Add the chopped onions and saute for 2-3 minutes until the onions are translucent.  Add the garlic, tomato paste, beef and Hungry Gene Greek Traditional Seasoning.  Break up the meat with a wooden spoon and brown (approximately 5 minutes). 

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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Add the petite diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and 8-10 ounces of water.  Add the red wine vinegar and sugar.  Bring the contents of the pan to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer with the lid on for about 30 minutes.  Most of the juices will have evaporated by then; you should have a thick, meaty sauce.  Set this aside.

 

Step 3:

For the bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a 7-8 quart pot over low-medium heat.  Don't let the butter burn! (I've done that before and while you ca still use it, burned or blackened butter changes the flavor of your pastitsio!  Add the flour and whisk continuously to make your roux for the bechamel.  Add the evaporated milk in small amounts, whisking continuously to prevent the bechamel from being lumpy.  Add a can full of water, still whisking.  (The can is the empty evaporated milk can.) At this point, you can add the Parmesan cheese and continue to whisk the mixture.  The bechamel should be getting thicker.  Remove the pan from the heat on the stove and add the egg yolks and nutmeg.  Do this very slowly and keep whisking!  You don't want the eggs to curdle or cook into little chunks.  If you have done this correctly, you will have a velvety consistency.  Set this aside and cook the pasta.

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Step 4:

Cook the pasta for the pastitsio 2-3 minutes less than the package instructions; you have to bake the dish so you don't want the past overcooked.  Drain the pasta and stir in the egg whites and the Feta cheese (smashed with a fork) and mix gently with a spatula.

 

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Step 5:

For this pastitsio recipe you will need a large 10 x 14 inch baking dish.  Butter the bottom and sides of a pan and assemble the pastitsio.  Some people like to put all of the noodles at the bottom, then put a laer of the meat sauce, noodles, meat sauce, and so forth until you run out. I like to end with a layer of noodles. For this recipe there will be enough for 6 layers (noodles, meat sauce, noodles, meat sauce, and noodles).  Top the pastitsio with the bechamel sauce and smooth out with a spatula.

Step 6:

You can sprinkle the pastitsio with grated cheese and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for about 40 minutes or until the crust turns a light golden brown.  Let the pastitsio cool down for a while before serving.

I meant to take a picture before we cut into it, but we were hungry!!!

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This classic Greek dish serves 8-10 people comfortably!

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Pronounced Ka-LEE O-rek-si.  This means bon appetite in Greek and no meal should start without it!

Until next time...

Mama Spice

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Chef's Tips

Top with some extra tomato sauce and crumbled feta cheese.  Enjoy!

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