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Pastitsio

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This is the ultimate Greek comfort food, a hearty casserole of cinnamon-spiked ground lamb baked with penne and a Parmesan cheese sauce.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 8

Source: Everyday Food, December 2005

Ingredients

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound penne, cooked and drained
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, (optional)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta, and drain; reserve. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, over medium heat, cook lamb, breaking apart pieces with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 6 to 8 minutes. Add onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes.

  2. Transfer to a colander; drain fat, and discard. Return lamb to pan; add wine. Cook over medium heat until almost all liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.

  3. Stir in tomato paste, cinnamon, and 2 cups water; simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

  4. Make Parmesan cheese sauce while mixture is simmering: In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; whisk in flour until incorporated, about 30 seconds. In a slow steady stream, whisk in milk until there are no lumps.

  5. Cook, whisking often, until mixture is thick and bubbly and coats the back of a wooden spoon, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in cayenne, if desired, and Parmesan.

  6. Add pasta to lamb mixture; transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Pour sauce over the top, smoothing with the back of a spoon until level. Bake until browned in spots, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool 15 minutes before serving.

Reviews Add a comment

  • Mewit
    19 AUG, 2013
    I love this recipe; it's simple, tasty, and incredibly comforting. It's great for entertaining, but when I'm just serving my family, I like to freeze half for an easy straight-from-the-freezer casserole. My partner isn't fond of lamb, so I usually replace it with beef. (If it was just me, it would be all lamb, all the time.)
    Reply
  • RoseyViolist
    18 JUN, 2013
    Not authentic but really simple and tasty. Makes the whole house smell wonderful. I added fresh oregano to the meat mixture
    Reply
  • cekjghc
    15 APR, 2013
    This could not be more wrong. Pastitsio is never made with lamb ground meat. It's always beef. Why do people assume that if a Greek recipe asks for meat, it has to be lamb? That's ridiculous.
    Reply
  • cekjghc
    15 APR, 2013
    This could not be more wrong. Pastitsio is never made with lamb ground meat. It's always beef. Why do people assume that if a Greek recipe asks for meat, it has to be lamb? That's ridiculous.
    Reply
  • MS11953802
    3 FEB, 2012
    cant wait to try this - but what Kind of wine is best? I'm not very adventurous! I think recipes should be more specific about wine choices. thanks.
    Reply
  • Eviebelle
    20 SEP, 2011
    I don't eat lamb, so I've never had this, but I've made it for my husband several times. He loves lamb and he LOVES this recipe. It's a little complicated for a weeknight, but definitely good for a weekend dinner.
    Reply
  • Igby
    18 FEB, 2011
    FABULOUS. Comfort food. I opted for ground beef, added a bit of oregano, garlic, and salt (because Greeks have to have these ingredients with their cinnamon). I added a little extra cayenne pepper and was more generous with the Parmesan cheese. Such an easy and delicious casserole. Everyone enjoyed and probably ate more than they should have because it was so good.
    Reply
  • waxbud
    30 NOV, 2009
    I stuck with the lamb and used lamb stock instead of water. I also doubled the wine, added garlic, oregano and a sprig of rosemary. The rosemary may not be authentic but it was very tasty.
    Reply
  • MrsSWO
    4 FEB, 2009
    bornagaincarrot - replace the lamb with ground beef. That's what I do. I don't like lamb either.
    Reply
  • MrsSWO
    4 FEB, 2009
    bornagaincarrot - replace the lamb with ground beef. That's what I do. I don't like lamb either.
    Reply