Most of you probably don’t know, I’m 50% Greek. While my little brother likes to tell people that he is 100% and I am 0% (none of this makes sense), I actually do have some Greek blood in me. While most American eaters may know the classic gyro, souvlaki, or spanakopita there are a few Greek food gems that I absolutely love to share. So today, I give you Pastichio (pronounced like, and also sometimes spelled like, Pastitsio), which I like to describe as a Greek lasagna.
This recipe was kindly given to me by my cousin Kyra (Thanks Kyra I owe you a pan of pastichio!) and has been made a few times over by me and my brother Rob. Rob and I have tried a few different variations of this recipe and we’ve changed one or two small details but have kept the recipe mostly intact.
This is a meal you’ll want two stomachs for. It’s a splurge worthy recipe and it’s satisfying to your deepest stomach heart (yes, that is a made up phrase but roll with me because your stomach heart will love you for eating this). My brother recently came to visit so we had to give it another go, and this time around was my favorite. Just try to only eat one piece…I dare you!
The Pastichio is a three step process. Let’s start with the cream sauce.
Start by melting butter into a saucepan, then add flour and stir together until the mixture is golden. Gradually stir in hot milk (I just microwave this a little right beforehand). And I mean GRADUALLY people. Let the mixture cook while stirring it constantly until the sauce is smooth and thick. Stir in sauce and set aside to let it cool. Lightly beat your eggs on the side and pour those into your cream mixture once it is partly cool. Let it rest but give it a stir every now and then just to make sure it’s not getting weird. And by weird I mean more solid than liquid or more gloopy than smooth. Avoid the gloop.
Next up, the meat! Saute your onions in a pan until just slightly translucent. Be careful not to overcook because these will stay in your pan with the meat and we don’t want any burnt onions. Then add in your meat and cook until browned. Add in your oregano, dash of cinnamon and salt and pepper to taste. Then add your water and tomato paste. Feel free to add a little more tomato paste if you want a more saucy meat. But start out with the 2 tablespoons and mix in before adding. A little paste goes a long way here.
Lastly, our pasta! I usually use ziti noodles. Anything like that will do. Cook your pasta according to the package then drain and rinse to cool down the noodles. Once they are cooled a little, add in your eggs and mix well. Then we layer! Usually I’ll do two layers of pasta but I didn’t have enough it seemed this time so I just did one on the bottom. I poured the pasta into a greased pan, then the meat, then a little romano cheese. Then, before you add the rest, bake the pasta and meat mixture in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven then top with (optionally more pasta and) cream sauce and more Romano cheese.
Pop your pan back in the oven for about 30-40 minutes. If it takes longer, it takes longer–just keep an eye on it and get it to your preferred browning on top.
Now eat and enjoy! This is also great for leftovers and lasts a good amount of time in the fridge so you can have it for days!!