October 15, 2008


This is my version of the ultimate Greek comfort food. I woke up craving this today. Pastitsio is a baked pasta layered with a spiced meat sauce and topped with a cheesy bechamel sauce. Dieters, avert your eyes! The signature flavors are nutmeg and cinnamon. Greeks (and others) often use what Americans consider "sweet" spices in meat dishes. This is loaded with eggs and butter and is guaranteed to warm the cockles of your heart on a cold evening.

6 T. butter
1 c. finely chopped yellow onions 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1 1/2 lbs. leanest ground beef 
1 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes 
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce 
3/4 t. salt 
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper 
1 t. ground cinnamon 
1 t. dried oregano, crushed

1 lb. box ziti pasta (or penne) 
1/4 c. butter, melted 
6 eggs, beaten 
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese  

4 T. butter 
4 T. flour 
1 3/4 c. milk, heated 
2 eggs, beaten 
1/2 t. freshly grated nutmeg (it really has to be fresh!) 
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, heat 3 T. of the butter, add the onions and garlic and saute until just beginning to brown. Add remaining butter and crumble in the ground beef. Add all the remaining meat sauce ingredients and stir to combine. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. It should be thick. Remove from heat and set aside. Cook ziti until barely al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain well and place in a large bowl. Add melted butter, beaten eggs and cheese. Place pasta mixture into a buttered large lasagne pan or casserole pan. Pour meat sauce over pasta and gently mix. ** see note. Make the white sauce by melting the 4 T. butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and stir until it's bubbling nicely. Gradually add the hot milk, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook until smooth and thickened. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add to them about a half cup of the hot sauce, whisking quickly to combine. Pour back into the rest of the sauce and stir until well combined. Stir in the nutmeg and cheese. Pour the sauce over the pasta and push the sauce into it in several places. Bake at 350 F. for 30 - 45 minutes, until the top is lightly browned.  

**You may also layer half of the pasta, then pour on the meat sauce, topped with the rest of the pasta, even going so far as to line up the noodles nicely so it looks pretty when cut. I do that for dinner parties, but only then!

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