Irene’s Pastitsio

Pastitsio is a layered pasta casserole, also known as “Macaronia tou Fournou” (pasta cooked in the oven). It is a very popular dish throughout Greece and is the perfect dish to make for a large family gathering or party, as it yields a large number of pieces. Pastitsio consists of layers of pasta, a layer of ground beef, and a thick béchamel sauce. Traditionally, a dash of ground cinnamon is added to the ground beef, but in this recipe Irene has chosen to omit the cinnamon. Feel free to add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the ground beef if you like.

For the pasta
2 packages of ‘Pastitsio’ pasta, #4
2 egg whites
About ½ a cup of Parmesan cheese

For the ground beef
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 bulbs of minced garlic
1 small chopped onion
2 pounds of lean ground beef
1 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoons of ground pepper
1 teaspoons of oregano
300 ml of tomato sauce or 2 cups of chopped tomatoes

For the béchamel
5 cups of milk, warmed to room temperature
½ pound of butter
½ cup of all-purpose flour
A dash of salt and pepper
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon of breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon of paprika

Cook the pasta for about 8-9 minutes in a large pot of salted water.

In another large pot, heat the oil over low heat. Over low-medium heat, sauté the garlic and onion for about 1-2 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook until the meat has browned. Add the salt, spices and tomato sauce, and continue to stir the meat until it is cooked. Set aside.

Drain the pasta. Once the pasta is back in your pot add 2 egg whites and stir the pasta. Add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese to the pasta.

Brush the bottom of a large pan with olive oil. Place half of your pasta in the large pan. Make sure it is spread out evenly. Add another sprinkle of parmesan cheese to the pasta.

Spread your ground beef sauce over the pasta. Add another layer of pasta and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

To prepare the béchamel, melt the butter in a large pot at low heat. Once the butter is melted, slowly add in the flour while continually stirring. Slowly add in the milk and continue to stir the sauce until it is smooth. Add salt and pepper. Once all lumps have been smoothed out, remove the sauce from the heat and add in 2 egg yolks. Stir well.

Add the béchamel sauce over the pasta. Be sure to spread the sauce out evenly. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs. Add a sprinkle of paprika if you like.

Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Let the pastitsio stand for 10 minutes to cool before you cut into squares.

Enjoy!

Eva’s Classic Moussaka

Moussaka is a layered casserole made with layers of eggplant, meat, and a béchamel sauce. In this video, Eva shows us her slightly healthier take on this classic Greek dish. Rather than frying the eggplant, Eva broils the sliced eggplant in the oven for 10 minutes on each side. Her recipe also calls for sliced potatoes to serve as the base of the dish along with the eggplant.

For the Base:

  • 9 Indian eggplants
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 cup of mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup of parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup of breadcrumbs

For the Meat:

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 quarter cup of onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 quarter cup of freshly chopped parsley
  • 2 fresh tomatoes chopped or the juice of ½ can of tomato juice
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Béchamel sauce:

  • ½ cup of butter
  • 2/3 cup of flour
  • 3 cups of warmed milk
  • 3 eggs

Slice the potatoes and eggplants into ½- inch slices. Place the slices on an oil pan in the oven for 10 minutes. Flip the eggplant and potatoes and cook the other side for another 10 minutes. Once eggplant is ready, remove from the pan and let them dry on paper towel.

To prepare the meat:

In a large skillet over high heat, add the olive oil, ground beef, onion, and garlic. Next add salt, pepper, and parsley. Once the meat has browned add the tomato juice. Let the meat cook until all the juice is gone. Be sure to stir the meat continuously. Once the meat has cooked, set aside.

To prepare the béchamel sauce:

In a medium pot, heat the butter and mix in the flour. Add 3 cups of milk to the mixture. Stir continuously as the mixture begins to thicken. Once the mixture begins to boil, it will thicken. If you find that your mixture is lumpy, simply strain it. Once the sauce has begun to thicken, remove it from the heat.

Now that you have prepared the vegetables, the meat, and the sauce you can now begin assembling the moussaka.

Preheat the oven at 325 degrees.

Lightly brush a medium size pan with olive oil. Place your potato slices on the bottom of the pan. Next, layer the pan with about half of your sliced eggplants. Next, spread about half of the shredded mozzarella cheese and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Next, add the cooked ground beef. Spread the mixture evenly onto the cheese.

Place the remaining slices of eggplant over the meat. Spread the remainder of the mozzarella cheese on top of the eggplant.

Before you add your sauce to the moussaka, fold in 3 beaten eggs into your béchamel sauce. Once the eggs are mixed in, pour the sauce evenly over the moussaka. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese and about half a cup of breadcrumbs over the moussaka.

Cook at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

Enjoy!